The 2017-2018 Great Waters Challenge Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is composed of the following exceptional individuals:
Maria-Rose Sikyea (Geiger)
Maria Rose was born by a Bavarian mother and a Northern Canadian, first nation, Dene father. A path between two worlds, since only four years of age, she spends much of her time in Nature, seeking awareness of the natural rhythm throughout, while in amazement of Mother nature’s magic. She is a harvester of the land’s gifts, a plant walker, trained herbalist, rewilder, weaver of webs/baskets, beginner astrologer, buckskin tanner, moose hide tanner, porcupine quill artist, fisheress, primitive skills enthusiast, and has organized / harvested / cooked elaborate wild food dinners.
She has been a part of Native American ceremonies all of her life, and dedicates much of her time to prayer whether in a tipi, inipi, sun dancing, sacred hoop, or simply in ceremony with the land, alone or with tribe. She is an Advocate for the earth-connection ways and seeks to speak to the sacredness of Mother Nature’s unconditional love to the children of Mother nature; all our relations.
Great Slave Lake is the body of water she most relates to, it has diversity of ecosystems and fish/animal life. It also has diversity of health. It has both the pains of the past (poison water) in some areas and the light of the future (clear fresh spring water)… she relates to this because it shows our current situation, the means to clean up our past and into the light of the future.
Avery’s educational background is in international relations with a minor in women’s studies, she also has an intensive technical environmental science diploma. Next year she will start her Masters in Environmental Management. Avery has worked in water conservation for local government for many years; creating unique and engaging programs for all demographics. She now works as the Program Manager for the nonprofit, Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society. Avery also recently began working with Living Lakes Canada on their national water dialogue hub project. She is looking forward to collaborating with enthusiastic youth like herself from all across Canada!
Avery relates most to waterfalls because they always move forward with lots of energy and purpose, and they pick up lots along the way.
Mark is completing a Master of Community Planning at Vancouver Island University where he is researching urban design solutions for sea level rise and coastal erosion. Mark has experience teaching youth abroad and he is currently working with Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society, assisting in projects such as water quality testing to support local watersheds. Mark looks forward to sharing his passion for water with local youth and connecting with the Youth Advisory Board and Great Waters Challenge members to help make meaningful contributions to communities in the future.
Mark relates to the ocean as he comes from a fishing family on Prince Edward Island and spends summers by the beach shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
Megan is an Engineer-In-Training with a BEng. in Environmental Engineering from Carleton University and also holds a BSc. in Physics from the University of Victoria. She is passionate about finding innovative solutions to better manage our water resources and is excited to join the YAB to promote water education. She has experience working for Environment Canada Water Survey and enjoys the complexity and diversity of water issues in Canada. Megan loves to travel, meet new people, and can usually be found on her bike exploring Vancouver Island or hiking with her dog.
Megan’s favorite form of water is ice because of its unique density properties causing lakes and rivers to freeze from the top down allowing the survival of aquatic species.
Owais is studying Integrated Sciences at the University of British Columbia. He immigrated from Pakistan, and represented his high school here as nominee for the prestigious Schulich Leader Scholarship. As a trained stream-keeper, he serves as the Volunteer Leader in Evergreen’s stewardship events where he facilitates urban watershed discussion and water quality monitoring, inspiring local residents to be citizen scientists. Owais is also a dedicated thrift-store volunteer. He is most excited about leading youth workshops and team-working in the YAB.
Owais relates to water in the form of creeks since the sights, sounds, and intricate ecosystem within fascinate him.
Breda is a Watershed Planner with the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance in Edmonton. In this role, she works with local water stewardship groups developing strategies to manage lake resources in Alberta. In her spare time, Breda has volunteered with the Telus World of Science in school programs and as a Scientist, developing a tabletop activity to engage visitors in water science. Breda is very passionate about protecting aquatic ecosystems and believes that the key to ensuring safe, healthy water resources into the future is through youth engagement. As a Youth Advisory Board member, she is excited to celebrate the importance of water with Canadian youth.
Breda loves freshwater because it is critical to life and its supply on Earth is very limited.
Dorothy is pursuing a degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Philosophy. She has a passion for people and enjoys collaborative projects that inspire and drive personal, communal, and environmental growth. She currently works for the Government of Alberta in the Water Quality Section. There, she helps to assess the effects of and requirements for water by the agricultural industry in Southern Alberta. She also works at the Lethbridge College’s Aquaculture Centre of Excellence, where they study aquaponics as an alternative means of food production. Dorothy is most excited to educate on water in her community while collaborating with other bright, water conscientious minds.
Dorothy relates most to an irrigation reservoir because she is built up and influenced by the environment and people around her, she has loads of potential, and enjoys helping others reach their maximum potential.
Catherine is pursuing a BA in Aquatic Resources with Public Policy and Social Research at St. Francis Xavier University. She has experience working with youth as a camp counselor and lifeguard. While participating in the Youth Advisory Board, Catherine is looking forward to encouraging youth and members of her community to uncover ways in which they can solve water related issues. For example, how to minimize the impacts of runoff pollution into our water systems.
The form of water she relates to the most is calm water that invites swimmers. As a former competitive swimmer, Catherine enjoys open water swimming in her free time.
As a recent graduate from the University of Calgary with a BSc in Geography and Minor in Development Studies, Dana is relocating to Halifax to pursue her Masters in Resource and Environmental Management at Dalhousie University. She has extensive experience working with children, having been a swim instructor for years. Dana has reviewed several national water legislative documents in her pursuit of understanding aquatic policies. As a YAB, Dana is most excited to share her love of teaching/learning with her interest in aquatic conservation.
The body of water she most connects with are rivers, she considers them the arteries of the ecosystems.
Jill graduated from the University of New Brunswick in 2016 with a degree in Environmental and Natural Resource Science. Jill currently works at UNB as the Climate Change Officer and teaches part time at KidSing. She is also the Co-Chair of the Falls Brook Centre Board. As Jill did her Honors project on water quality, she is excited to use her knowledge to connect youth to the importance of our water systems.
If Jill was any form of water, she would be a babbling brook as she is simple, yet bubbly fun, and has a direction she has established for herself.
Lena is in her third year of undergraduate studies at Dalhousie University majoring in Biology and Environmental Science. She’s experienced with consulting, research and working as an aquatic field technician in rivers across New Brunswick. Lena is interested in ecosystems and functions of freshwater systems. She is incredibly excited to be volunteering with Waterlution and to hear from our youth how they connect with the water around them. Most of her work has been on rivers and with freshwater fish but she also loves being in the ocean and in her free time she heads to the coast to surf.
Lena relates to rivers because they are fast-paced and complex systems.
St John’s NL
Nick studies Political Science with a minor in sociology at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He is currently finishing an honours thesis which focuses on water resource management and conflict in the global south. Originally from British Columbia he has spent time working in a range of provinces and territories. Although he’s worked in a range of positions and currently works in a planning role for the City of St John’s and Happy City St John’s, his favourite role has been lifeguarding. If he isn’t in the office he will be found at one of the many lakes that dot the St John’s region with his dog, Joan.
Nick loves freshwater lakes, because they’re not only incredibly important but also lovely for swimming.
Ellen has been a water and wastewater treatment plant operator with Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) for the last three and a half years. She completed a two-year water quality technician diploma at Durham College and is in the process of completing a public relations certificate online through Ryerson University. She is currently the volunteer Webinar Coordinator for the Canadian Water Network Students and Young Professionals Committee. Ellen enjoys teaching grade eight students through OCWA’s OneWater Education program about water and wastewater treatment processes and how everyone has a role in protecting and conserving our water.
Ellen relates most to Lake Ontario because when she was young, her dad would take her there to collect shale that they would later crack open in hopes of finding fossils!
Faris is filled with a passion for the environment, water, and its conservation. A first year Loran Scholar and student at McMaster’s Arts & Science Program, Faris also led a StreamKeepers club dedicated to the abiotic and biotic well-being of Rodger’s Creek in West Vancouver BC. Faris is excited about educating kids as part of the GWC to see in them the same excitement when he first learned how water connects everyone around the globe.
Faris’ spirit form of water is slush as he is a compromiser and always stays neutral in troubled waters.
Julie is a recent graduate of McGill University’s Bachelor of Commerce program. Having studied Environmental Studies and International Business, she is eager to apply her skills to promote sustainable water governance on local, national, and global scales. She has previously worked with Montreal’s Eco-Quartier program, organizing activities to engage the local community in learning and sharing environmental best-practices. As an individual who is passionate about protecting our water resources, she hopes to inspire and empower others to collaborate around a sustainable water future.
If Julie were water she would be a river coursing down a mountain, excitedly exploring and learning from her surroundings as she flew down.
Krista recently graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario with a BAH in Health Studies and Biology. She is a Peer Educator with the student run organization Queen’s Health Outreach, which works towards sustainable opportunities for youth engagement and health education. Krista is most looking forward to learning about and celebrating how water has shaped the history of diverse communities across Canada. Her hope as part of the YAB is to engage and inspire youth around the significance and importance of water and increase awareness of water security challenges facing many Indigenous communities across Canada.
Krista relates most to snow because she loves change and trying new things – just like how snow undergoes many changes from the atmosphere all the way to the ground (and she loves the cold weather!).
Olivier Saint-Jean Rondeau
Olivier is a geophysicist, musician and explorer interested in using collaborative science to protect water. His involvement has led him to discover the water issues around the world, in Brazil and India, and in Canada in Inuit and Mohawk communities. He is aiming to engage youth in collaborative science by personifying his character of modern “coureur des bois”, with his magic canoe disguised as a river spirit and his violin, and by telling stories and demonstrating the use of low-cost, open-source sensors read by smartphones. He is distributing these sensors and attributing geo-caching missions inciting children to gather data themselves. He looks forward to exploring the rivers with youth throughout the GWC!
The water body Olivier relates the most with is the 70% of water within his body, as it is like a little lake enclosed in a very convenient skin pocket, periodically drinking from and overflowing to the flow of the river he inhabits, the Saint-François.
Stephanie recently completed her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology at University of Toronto. She is currently a MSc student at the University of Toronto researching Physical Cultural Studies in the Department of Exercise Sciences. Her thesis is examining the Mother Earth Water Walk. She hopes to transform individual and communal relationships with water from one of neglect to one of love and gratitude. Stephanie is excited to engage youth to uncover Canada’s water stories and to create a ripple effect of love and gratitude for Canada’s waters.
Stephanie relates most to rivers – she is flowing with love and gratitude.