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Alessandra Gentile

Name:  Alessandra Gentile
 I live in St.John's, Newfoundland on the ancestral homelands of the Beothuk.
What gets me up in the morning:  That I get to see all my wonderful, passionate, and inspiring friends and co-workers everyday at school. 
A bit about me: I am currently  pursuing my MSc in Fisheries Science under the supervision of Dr. Jin Gao at The Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University Newfoundland. My thesis is focused on balancing economic yield, changing climate and bycatch for the yellowtail flounder fishery on the Grand Bank of Newfoundland. I am passionate about sustainable fisheries and living a healthy active lifestyle.
My favourite marine animal:  I just saw a photo of a 40 ton humpback whale that had leaped completely out of water like a dolphin. If a 40 ton whale can be completely air borne, then anything is possible.

Alessandra Gentile    
Ali Paul

NameAli Paul 

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town):  I live on the traditional territory of the Algonquin First Nations in Almonte, Ontario (near Ottawa). 

What gets me up in the morning:
 Yoga, tea, and good breakfast. 

A bit about me: 
I love to ski, mountain bike, practice yoga, and hike. I was lucky enough to live right beside the Bay of Fundy for four years during my undergrad at Acadia University. My most influential memory of the ocean was visiting the Great Barrier Reef. Only a very small section of the reef that we saw was still alive, it was very startling. An ocean-related issue close to my heart is overfishing. 

Tell us something random about yourself (or use one of the following suggestions)
: My favourite marine animal is the sea turtle. 

Pascale Sylvester    
Alyana Lalani

NameHi! I'm Alyana Lalani!

I live on the traditional, unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations Peoples in Burnaby (Metro Vancouver), British Columbia.

What gets me up in the morning: 
I am not a morning person and every day is a struggle to get out of my warm, comfy bed. I am much more enthusiastic about getting out of bed when I'm going hiking, swimming, or doing any other outdoors activity.

A bit about me: 
I'm excited to be part of Ocean Bridge because of the opportunity to learn about what I can do to protect and conserve marine ecosystems.  Shoreline cleanups are a great way to help the environment but I want to go a little further than that. An ocean-related issue close to my heart are salmon.  Salmon are incredibly important to BC, especially to the ecosystem and First Nations culture. The population of Pacific Salmon are rapidly declining which has and will continue to have devastating impacts on our environment. I first studied the life cycle of the salmon when I was in Grade 2 , when my class raised and released 70 Chum Salmon in Deer Lake Creek. I loved it so much that I've participated in annual salmon releases for the past eight years.   

Favourite marine animal: 
I LOVE cetaceans but two marine animals close to my heart are sharks and salmon (if you couldn't tell).   

Pascale Sylvester    
Angela Phan

NameAngela Phan

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town): 
I currently reside on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tseil-Waututh Nations but grew up on the unceded and traditional territories of the Katzie and Kwantlen First Nations. 

What gets me up in the morning: My alarm clock! But depending on the day either school, an outdoor run or yoga class - mornings are my favourite time of the day. 

A bit about me: I am currently finishing my last semester of my International Relations degree at UBC! In my spare time, I like to be outdoors and/or active whether that's hiking, camping, running, swimming, or even just listening to a podcast and going for a walk. I've had the privilege of growing up and living in a part of the world where I am so close to so many natural ecosystems as well as the Pacific Ocean. There are so many ocean related issues I am passionate about, but one being the presence of microplastics in the food web systems of marine organisms in the Arctic! 

Tell us something random about yourself: In a previous job I facilitated a seniors hip-hop class centred around language learning and its connection to movement! 

Angela Phan    
Ben McTaggart

Name: Ben McTaggart

Location: I currently call Nanaimo, BC my home. These are the traditional unceded lands of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. I would also like to mention that I lived on the Tsuu T'ina First Nation owned lands of Redwood Meadows, Alberta. Both are a spiritually vibrant and inspiring people to have worked with and learned from. 

What gets me up in the morning: 
Any one thing is hard to identify... but if I have a long distance walk planned in the general direction of the Salish Sea with a good playlist of music or podcast, there is usually a spring in my step!

A bit about me: I am an individual who likes to help and be of service. Whether it is in the fields of archaeology, community organizing, disability support, tour guide or sales, connecting with people and finding common ground is my passion. I have had a love of the sea born from an extended naval family, lulled to sleep as a toddler by being driven along the Georgia Strait, being obsessed with the RMS Titanic from the age of 7 and, more recently, studying maritime archaeology and the intersection of environment and nation-wide government policy meet. Diving for the first time in the Salish Sea, the need to reach people and deepen, enrich and connect the conversation on ocean health has increasingly been of interest to me. I look forward to working with everyone to develop ways to reach as many people as possible this year!

My favourite marine mammal is
: The first time I saw a jelly fish lightly flowing along among the red kelp of the various diving spots around Nanaimo, I was mesmerized by the colours, electricity, beauty and simplicity of these amazing creatures. The being said, I wouldn’t mind seeing a whale up close or a Bigfin squid – that one that looks like the aliens from Independence Day. The sea is so mysterious :) 

Me excavating at a site yeilding 3000BP pottery and stone microtools from a maritime culture on Dong Choi Island, Vietnam. April 2019. This test pit however yeilded "amazing" contemporary finds of tire tracks and burnt material. Part of the fun of archaeology ;)
Pascale Sylvester    
Caitlin Laidlaw

(I highly recommend Tostitos as a hiking snack) 

NameCaitlin Laidlaw

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town): 
I am from Mississauga Ontario. For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples inhabited and cared for this land. In particular, this land is home to the Anishinabek, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Ojibway/Chippewa peoples; the land that is home to the Metis; and most recently, the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation who are direct descendants of the Mississaugas of the Credit.  

What gets me up in the morning: As a masters student I should probably say my thesis? Despite my love of the ocean, my thesis is focusing on a land animal: the snow leopard! I will be investigating human-wildlife conflict between the snow leopard and pastoral communities in the Nepal Himalayas. I think a lot of conservation challenges, whether on land or ocean, fall at the interface of social and natural sciences! 

A bit about me: An ocean-related issue close to my heart are the Southern Resident Orca's! I spent five years on the West coast studying at UBC, and spent a summer as a whale watching naturalist The southern residents are on decline, facing many challenges from decreased salmon populations to bio accumulation of toxins, and there are only 72 left :(
I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because I have moved back to Ontario for my masters  program, and find myself missing the Ocean. I want to learn how I can stay connected to the Ocean and learn more about the Great Lakes that I grew up beside.

Tell us something random about yourself: A person I admire is David Attenborough! I am obsessed with all of his documentaries, and spent my childhood in my basement watching his shows. His documentaries have sparked many of my adventures of my Ocean adventures around the world!

Pascale Sylvester    
Charlotte Rentmeister

Name: Charlotte Rentmeister

Location: I was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, on the traditional land of the Kwanlin Dün First Nations. Kwanlin Dün were the 10th Yukon First Nation to sign a self-governance and land settlement treat. Of the 14 First Nations in Yukon, 11 are self-governed.

What gets me up in the morning: Initially, I won’t lie, what gets me up in the morning is the comforting thought that I get to come back to bed in the evening! I would love to be a morning person and embrace the early hours of the day, but admittedly, I’m not quite there yet. 

Once I’ve actually made the move to crawl out of bed though, fresh smoothies, good coffee, my favourite playlist, the promise of a new day full of adventure and my favourite people in the world have me smiling ear to ear. My brothers dog Marshall is currently a big game changer too, he is the light of my life. 

A bit about me:  After graduating high school I felt the need to get as far away from my small town as possible, to become more independent and gain a new sense of freedom. I packed my bags and moved to Ottawa to study. I graduated from the University of Ottawa in 2018 with a BSc with Honours in Environmental Sciences. I have since realized that my home town is my favourite place in the world, and have returned to live and work with a local environmental consulting company. I am currently looking into starting a masters soon (stay tuned).

In my third year of university I did a semester abroad in New Zealand, leaving Canada two months before classes started to do a solo trip through Australia and New Zealand. Thanks to this trip a came down with a huge case of the travel bug. After graduating from university, my best friend and I did a three month trip across South America and I am currently on my latest adventure through Bali and the Philippines for two months with my boyfriend. 

My earliest most influential memory of the ocean: In grade 11 my experiential science class did a one month road trip around Vancouver Island, where we learnt to surf, sail and scuba dive. This experience changed my life. I felt so fortunate to experience this entirely new underwater world, so few ever get the chance to witness. Since then I have been diving on the Great Barrier Reef, in the Galapagos, and most recently around Bali and the Philippines. 

An ocean related issue close to my heart: I’m not sure if it is possible for me to chose one issue closest to my heart. I have witnessed first hand the effects of tourism on our oceans, of ocean temperatures rising and ocean acidification, of pollution suffocating our planet and all of these issues are close to my heart and feel as equally as important. 

My favourite marine animal: Can you have a favourite when they’re all so awesome?? If I had to choose (3?) whales (broad I know but I only gave myself 3!!), sharks and nudibranchs.

Pascale Sylvester    
Chelsea Power

Name: Chelsea Power

 I live in Victoria, B.C., the capital city of what is now called British Columbia. This is the home and territory of the Lekwungen, Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples. Their historically situated reciprocal relationships with the lands have sustained their cultures and the health and vitality of these lands since the time of creation and continues to this day.

I was born in Victoria, British Columbia and have had the privilege of spending my life getting to know the coastal and marine ecosystems of the West Coast of British Columbia. My father moved here from Toronto, where his father moved from Newfoundland. My mother grew up in Victoria, she was adopted as an infant by my Nana and Papa whom could trace their ancestors back to England. Although I do not know the history and heritage of my genetic ancestors, I do know that my family and I are settlers to these lands.

What gets me up in the morning
: My alarm clock (HA). A perfect morning at home is me sitting out on my porch on my rocking chair with a hot cup of coffee sweetened with woodfired maple syrup, a warm blanket wrapped around me, reading the words of artists, theorists, poets, and writers that aim to change the way we think about our relationship to the nonhuman world, watching the sky lighten with the rising of the sun and greeting the hummingbirds and sparrows that come by to grab a bite and say hello. And Stori, my feline companion.

A bit about me: 
I am passionate about raising awareness about plastic pollution in the ocean. Living in a city on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island means that when it rains (which, believe me, it does) any piece of litter, microplastic, cigarette butt, etc., gets washed into the storm drains and swept out into the ocean. While this may allow the city an appearance of purity, it is imperative that coastal communities have a crucial awareness of where our garbage goes.

I am also very excited about working with more-than-human nature to cocreate sites of ecological and spiritual restoration. Eelgrass, for example, is a flowering seagrass with incredible properties: it sinks more carbon than terrestrial foresters per square km; it filters debris from the water, clearing away murk and allowing sunshine through to feed subtidal plants and animals; and it is a critical habitat for juvenile salmon and invertebrates. While eelgrass can propagate on its own, with deteriorating ocean health eelgrass populations have been on the decline. Successful eelgrass restoration requires eelgrass shoots to be transplanted, as seeding has shown little success. Thus, it requires humans and eelgrass to work together to restore health and vitality to the tidal and subtidal marine ecosystems that have been ravaged by industry.

I have had the privilege of growing up surrounded by the ocean, most if not all of my early influential memories are in or of the ocean. When I was a child, about eight years old, I was camping with my family near a lovely sandy beach. The night of the new moon I went with my two sisters to the beach, we had heard that there was a meteor shower that night and where we were camped the sky was not visible through the canopy of the ancient trees. When we reached the beach we were surprised to see other people, staring up at the sky or into the water with awe. I looked up at the sky and saw more stars than I had ever seen before, the milky way was easily visible in the dark of the new moon. I watched a shooting star go by, it was so bright the comet tail blurred across the sky and across my eyes for what must have been a minute. I was in awe. When my vision cleared I walked down to meet the water, I was amazed to gaze into the water and see the stars there as well. I knew I should swim. And, although I was afraid of the dark water, I submerged my entire body. I dunked my head under and opened my eyes, the salt stung, and my vision was blurred—but I was determined to gaze into the depth of the ocean. The view of the dark ocean, blurred by the saltwater of the west coast, filled with the beautiful light of endless ocean beings, bioluminescent life in everything around me: lit up like the stars above but even more beautiful with the promise of life. The ocean is filled with life and vitality, but it’s not always visible to the human eye.

Tell us something random about yourself: 
One of my favourite things to do is to explore the subterranean karst ecosystem of the caves of Vancouver Island. My time in the caving community of B.C. has taught me the importance of forest ecosystems and the incredible services of the above-ground and underground karst ecosystems. The trees, the limestone, the water, the soils, and flora and fauna of these incredible ecosystems work together to support each other and the human and more-than-human beings that thrive there.

I love many sea critters, but eelgrass holds a special place in my heart. And I love moon jelly!

Pascale Sylvester    
Colleen Wilson

Name: Colleen Wilson

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town): 

What gets me up in the morning
: The prospect of coffee and waffles. 

A bit about me
: I have a background in coastal engineering and oceanography, and currently work in underwater acoustics – listening to whales! Outside of work I enjoy running, cycling, hiking, skiing and camping. My earliest memory of the ocean was swimming and playing at the beach as a young child while my family was living in New Zealand. I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge for the opportunities to connect and collaborate with other youth passionate about the ocean. 

Tell us something random about yourself
: In 2018 I cycled over 3000 km from Vienna to Helsinki with my family!

Pascale Sylvester    
Connel Bradwell

Name: Connel Bradwell

Location ( Traditional Territory and City/Town ):  Victoria BC (originally from Leicestershire UK). Victoria is the home and territory of the Lekwungen, Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples.  

A bit about me: I am a wildlife conservationist and educator on Vancouver Island. I run wildlife education programs across the Island, focusing on engaging youth with wildlife and conservation issues. My research work  focuses on orcas, other cetaceans and migratory birds. I work with an organisation researching the impact boats are having on endangered southern resident orcas and the behaviour of transient orcas. I also conduct population surveys on harbour porpoises and humpback whales. I am a board member for Rocky Point Bird Observatory, assisting in the banding and monitoring of migratory songbirds and northern saw-whet owls, as they travel along the 'Pacific migratory highway'. 

I am also a wildlife host and filmmaker, producing and presenting content on BBC Earth's digital platforms and hosting live wildlife shows across Canada, covering Canadian conservation stories.  I also co-founded a youth conservation network, Youth for Wildlife Conservation, and have been involved with them on projects around wildlife trade and CITES.

I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to be involved in Ocean Bridge and I cannot wait to learn more about wildlife, conservation and marine issues right across the country!

My favourite marine animal: Any guesses? It's the orca, to be honest I like them all, I am completely fascinated by marine wildlife, but there's just something so special about orcas, they never ever get old.

Connel Bradwell    
Courtney Smaha

Name: Courtney Smaha 

Location: I was born in the territories of the Kitselas, Kitsumkalum, Haisla, and Nisga'a First Nations (Terrace), a beautiful community in northern BC. My studies in Environment and Sustainability Geography eventually took me to the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil Waututh, and Coast Salish Peoples (Vancouver), and I have never left!  

What gets me up in the morning:
 Work is what typically what gets me up in the morning! I work for BC Ferries as an Environmental Advisor, on a small team of 3. It’s a jack-of-all trades role that certainly keeps me busy, and constantly learning as no one-day is the same! 

A bit about me: I love to hike, camp (preferably in the back country), mountain bike, snowboard, surf, basically anything that gets me outside for hours on end. This year I’ll be doing the Ride to Conquer Cancer with my family, it’s a 2 day 200km road bike ride between Vancouver and Hope, this will be a new challenge for me, as I have never road biked before. 

My earliest memory of the ocean: My grandparents lived in Port Moody outside of Vancouver and when we would visit we would often walk the inlet. My childhood memories are full of flipping over rocks to find what critters were living underneath, and the sweet smell of kelp and salt.

Fun Fact: My love for the ocean started at a very young age! Instead of glow in the dark stars on my bedroom ceiling I had glow in the dark orcas, sharks, and dolphins. In Grade 3 I won first place in the science fair for my project on Killer Whales.  

Pascale Sylvester    
Danika Guppy

Name: Danika Guppy

Location: I grew up in Belleville but now live in Burlington, Ontario. Both cities are located on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory along Lake Ontario.

What gets me up in the morning: I'm really excited to have recently finished school and started my career, and I'm truly enjoying getting to know my new community by playing in a local soccer league, hiking local trails, spending time with family and friends, and exploring new neighbourhoods. 

A bit about me: As a city planner in Southern Ontario, an important ocean- (and fresh water)-related issue close to my heart is ensuring that our built environment reflects sustainable development principles and has a healthy relationship with our natural environment, especially along the shorelines of Lake Ontario. I'm excited to meet and learn from passionate people across Canada who I know will further energize me and deepen my understanding of ocean-related issues, and I hope this experience with Ocean Bridge will make me a more thoughtful and informed city planner and community member.

Something random about myself: I've attended more than one American Civil War reenactments. The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was an absolute blast!

Pascale Sylvester    
Dorian Giesinger

Name: Dorian Giesinger

Location: I live in Edmonton, Alberta. Originally from Good Fish First Nations in Alberta.

What get me up in the morning: The smell of a delicious coffee brewing, workouts, and the motivation to get on my feet and peddle on my bike through our amazing river valley we have hereI spend most days outside enjoying the fresh air and always trying to find a way to go back to the beautiful mountains we have here in Banff, Alberta

A bit about me: Always been really passionate about the outdoors. Grew up camping with my twin sister and father, attended wilderness camps, travelled in cadets,  and attended a 3 month treatment program where we did lots of mountain hikes and other leisure activities! I'm excited to be apart of Ocean Bridge because I can stay connected to my aboriginal culture, share my stories to many others and help this world however way I can. 

My Favorite marine animal: Would have to be dolphins! Got to kiss and hug one when i was in Dominican Republic and fell in love with them ever since!

Dorian Giesinger    
Gabe Senecal

NAME: Gabe Senecal

LOCATION: I now live on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people, in Ottawa, but am originally from a farm near Melfort, Saskatchewan, in Treaty Six territory. 

(Photo: Ferry from Lower Mainland to Pender Island, BC)

WHAT GETS ME UP IN THE MORNING: Days that I exercise, learn, and have conversations with interesting people are good days. 

BIO: I am a graduate student of public policy and administration at Carleton University in Ottawa, and love playing sports and board games. I insist on biking all months of the year, and did so through Saskatchewan’s winters and up Vancouver’s hills (although up Saskatchewan’s hills and through Vancouver’s winters would have been easier).

An ocean-related issue close to my heart is: the built environment humans live in, i.e. our cities and communities, the form and shape of which are key factors in efforts to minimize both runoff and carbon pollution. 

My earliest/most influential memory of the ocean: While I did not grow up near the Ocean (Saskatchewan has a lack of shoreline) nature and the hydrosphere have played a role in my recreation. Early camping and fishing trips to northern Saskatchewan have shaped my appreciation for the environment. The pristine interconnected waterways of the boreal forest are memories I cherish and continue to renew.

I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because I am keen to build friendships and connections on a team working together to achieve larger goals!

RANDOM FACT: I feel self-conscious about two things especially: my mediocre French and swimming. 

Pascale Sylvester    
Gabrielle Bissessar

Name: Gabrielle Bissessar

Location:  I live in Toronto, Ontario. Home and territory of the Haudenosaunee, Huron Wendat, Ojibway/Chippewa and WSÁNEĆ peoples. 

What gets me up in the morning: COFFEE - I don’t realize I’m awake till I have some coffee in my system. 

A bit about me: Overfishing along with long line fishing are both issues very close to my heart. There’s a dark underside to the fishing industry. A lot of illegal fishing occurs, for example fishing in protected marine areas, shark finning, nets/long-lines left behind which entangle wildlife (oftentimes “bycatch”), where they are left for dead. The lack of regulation when it comes to fishing is alarming. 

My earliest memory of the oceans would have to be my “Demons of the Deep” documentary by National Geographic - it was on VHS. I was around 6 years old and I would watch it at least once a week. It was meant to be about Sharks and other “scary” creatures of the deep - a normal child probably would have been scared, but me? Nope, it just made me dream of visiting the bottom of the ocean. 

Tell us something random about yourself: A person that I admired was Rob Stewart - he was a Toronto based shark conservationist and photographer. He made the documentary Sharkwater, a film that I fell in love with in middle school and inspired my passion for the oceans and ocean conservation. My favourite marine animal is the Great White Shark. If you’ve heard of “horse girls’ I’m the shark equivalent … a “shark girl”.

Gabrielle Bissessar    
Georgina Faber

Name: Georgina Faber

Location: I currently live on the traditional unceded Indigenous land of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation on the Island of Tiohtià:ke also known as Montreal.

What gets me up in the morning: I have just rescued a 5 year old dog named Ru, who happens to be the sweetest being and yet will always wake me up 5 min before my alarm with her sad whine waiting almost patiently for her breakfast. 

A bit about me: Although I have lived most of my life in Montreal, I spent a few of my early years living in Greece by the oceanside. My earliest memory of the ocean is while living in Greece my father and I would spend time searching for crabs by the shore and seeing the tremendous and expansive sea life that flourished in the area. An ocean related issue that is close to my heart is the growing plastic pollution of our bodies of water. A simple past-time such as watching a sunset or sunrise by the beach has now become an increasingly littered experience which is unacceptable. A dedication of mine would be to contribute to a permanent solution to our plastic-polluted oceans. 

My favorite marine animal: The Mediterranean Monk seal; the alliteration in the name alone! 

Georgina Faber    
Hil Hamilton

Location: I grew up and live in K’jipuktuk (Halifax) as a person of settler descent on the unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq, the Malisseet and Passamaquody peoples. I've spent some time living on and exploring the incredible West coast of Canada, but I'm happy to be back in my home, working and living in my community. 

What gets me up in the morning : There's so much each day has to offer ...but when that's harder to see, coffee. And friends.

A bit about me: I'm a big reader (and always open to suggestions), plant parent and outside-goer, especially when it comes to the ocean. I now work in non-profit ocean education at Dalhousie University coordinating place-based ocean programs for youth. I've always loved the ocean, but the more I work in this field, the more I realize the ocean has something to offer for everyone. So, highlighting that connection we all have with the big blue is something that I care deeply about and I'm excited to work on with Ocean Bridge.

Tell us something random about yourself: I once had a Grey whale spray directly in my face. The smell didn't go away for days!

Hil Hamilton    
Jennifer Johnson

Name: Jennifer Johnson (call me Jen!)

Location: I live on the traditional territory of the Coast Salish (Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish) in Burnaby, BC.

What gets me up in the morning: Yoga, cycling, and running is what gets me up in the morning most of the time! I teach yoga part-time and am currently training for a 200-mile bike race. When I’m not being physically active, I’m attending sustainability events (often held at the aquarium), or cooking Indian or Thai cuisine. 

A bit about me: Besides being connected to the Pacific Ocean by living in Vancouver, my most influential memory of the ocean was diving in South East Asia in 2016/2017. Seeing the ocean from that perspective unveils an extraordinary universe worth exploring, understanding, and protecting. I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge to champion ocean literacy and conservation within my community while making meaningful connections with fellow Ocean Bridge members across Canada. 

Tell us something random about yourself: My favourite marine animals are orcas and manta rays!

Pascale Sylvester    
Jessica Leung

Name: Jessica Leung

Location: Vancouver, BC. I acknowledge that I live, work, and play on the unceded and traditional territory of the Musqueam, Tsleil Waututh, and Squamish Coast Salish peoples.

What gets me up in the morning: The realization that I only gave myself 20 minutes to shower, get dressed, pack a lunch, and dash out the door. That REALLY wakes me up. 

A bit about me: What keeps me going after my rough morning starts is how much I look forward to my day, everyday. For work, I’ll sometimes be in the field trudging through mud one day and then sitting in the office handling administrative things the next. The adventure doesn’t end when work ends either. Outside of work, I’ll climb, backpack, canoe, or pick up something new. There is so much to live for and there are so many people with fascinating stories to talk to! If only I had more hours in a day.   

I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because: In a classic case of the tragedy of the commons, it is dangerously easy to perceive our water bodies as never ending reservoirs for waste, runoff, and fishing activity, particularly in its vastness. I think that grassroots programs, like Ocean Bridge, that provide citizens with the education to understand the issues at play and the resources to take action, are powerful in spreading awareness at a community level. And, in my observation, sparking that conversation, action, and passion can be fundamental to motivating change on a greater scale in the long run - at a governmental / policy level. So what I'm trying to say is.. I'm grateful (and excited) to be a part of this group!

Tell us something random about yourself: I spent 2-3 years raising insects. Not enough fruit flies in your life? I can help.

Pascale Sylvester    
Jordan Fiander Jordan Fiander    
Josh Dewitt

NameJosh Dewitt
Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town): I am from Winnipeg, the traditonal territory of Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, Dene peoples and homeland of the Metis Nation.
What gets me up in the morning:
Excessive amounts of coffee and fresh air!!
A bit about me
: I have a passion for being outdoors, and while I live far inland, thousands of miles from the nearest ocean, I still take pride in our water bodies here in Manitoba. When I'm not working, you can find me photographing wildlife, fishing (fish fascinate me), or doing art! While I had been to the ocean several times before, my  most influential memory of the ocean was actually in fall 2018. I was out in Nova Scotia on a placement with the Canadian Conservation Corps (another Canada Service Corps program). There I fell in love with the Atlantic, and would spend all my free time by the water, fishing, birding and sometimes just sitting on the cliffs early in the morning, coffee in hand, watching the wildlife and smelling the salty air. 
Tell us something random about yourself
My favourite marine animals are either requiem sharks, or Dall's Porpoises.

Josh Dewitt    
Kayla Stephens

Name: Kayla Stephens

Location: Have grown up in Orono Ontario also as the  Huron-Wendat territory. Most of my extended family is from around here.

What gets me up in the morning: I enjoy going on the local hiking trails, I m proud of our butterfly garden in the Orono Crown Lands. I try to spend my time outdoors with friends or in solitude as it brings me peace and happiness. 

A bit about me: I graduated in environmental science in 2018 and thinking about my next steps to pursue a career. For over a year, a lot of my passion is in reducing carbon footprint by doing the vegan plant based lifestyle.  I am also wanting to reduce waste especially in plastics so I have taken steps to use reusable bags and would like to push it further. Also joined a beach cleanup and loved it! So very excited to network with like minded individuals and share great ideas. 

Something random about me: I love creating environmental based art. It easily spreads the word and sparks emotion in people.

Pascale Sylvester    
Kristen Love

Name: Kristen Love

Location: I have lived my whole life in Windsor, Ontario in the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe First Nations. My family is part of the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. 

What gets me up in the morning: I have 3 dogs, so usually at least one of them wakes me up in the morning! Sunlight, the smell of food, warm weather and the excitement of a new adventure.

A bit about me: I’m an optometric assistant with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a love for all things nature. I spend my free time snacking, volunteering and travelling. I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because of the opportunity to share experiences with other environmentally conscious individuals across the country, and work towards a greener future together while impacting my local community. An ocean-related issue close to my heart is pollution, specifically plastic in the oceans. Plastic is everywhere and it is devastating to see how much it is affecting marine life. There is so much we can do to impact the health of our oceans by small simple changes like reusable items instead of single use.

Tell us something random about yourself: A person I greatly admire is Jane Goodall. She has done so much for conservation and is such an inspirational role model to all. I have had the privilege to hear her speak twice and I even met her once!

Kristen Love    
Lauren Krzus

NamLauren Krzus

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town) - 
I am from Whadjuk region of the traditional territories of the Noongar First Nations in Perth in Western Australia. Now I live on the traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations in Vancouver, BC.

What gets me up in the morning 
:  I've been living in Vancouver for a few years now but that fresh feeling of being in a new place still gets me up and excited every morning. 

A bit about me: 
Ocean acidification (OA) is an issue that has always captured my interest. Diving the thriving Great Barrier Reef as a teenager and then seeing the rapid loss of the coral and the species around it made OA a real, tangible issue for me. I have a passion and fascination with marine plants and am excited that part of the solution to OA is already occurring in natural systems in the sea! My favourite memory of the ocean gave meaning to the phrase 'take my breath away' when a Minke whale and calf dropped in for an unexpected visit on a scuba dive. 

Tell us something random about yourself (or use one of the following suggestions)
: I have probably eaten my body weight in hummus. 

Pascale Sylvester    
Martine Panzica

NamMartine Panzica

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town) - I am from the Traditional Territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (Toronto), and now live in traditional Mi'kmaq territory (Halifax) where I attend Dalhousie University. 

What gets me up in the morning: In the morning I love waking up to tend to the indoor jungle I have! I have over 30 houseplants in my tiny apartment, and it is such a joy to see them grow. The things I look forward to in the day are peeking out my window at the ocean across the road, hiking, rock climbing, yoga, and writing. I'm also an aspiring surfer, so anyone with surfing tips, please send them my way! 

A bit about me: An ocean-related issue close to my heart is the climate-driven refugee crisis. My masters' thesis looks specifically at LGBTQ+ refugees and social media, and I've had a passion for working with newcomer communities for many years. I also feel that there's a need for incorporating sustainable development with immigration and am often thinking about how our global migration system is being impacted by climate change. While this isn't ocean specific, I often think about how ocean health is intrinsically linked to human health as well!

My earliest/most influential memory of the ocean is swimming with my best friend on the beach in Prince Edward Island. 

I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because I know there is so much that can be done regarding ocean sustainability, and I'd love to learn more effective ways that I can make change in my own community and beyond. 

Tell us something random about yourself: I used to be a camp director and canoe/kayak instructor, and I'd love to do a long-distance kayaking trip one day

My favourite marine animal is the humpback whale! Or any whale. I love that they sing. 

Pascale Sylvester    
Matt Sanders

Name: Matt Sanders

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town) - Currently I am living in Ladner, British Columbia which is located on the traditional territory of the Tsawwassen and Katzie first nations.

What gets me up in the morning: I love playing and watching sports. Eating out with friends. Being outdoors. 

A bit about me: I am currently studying ecological restoration at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in my 3rd of 4 years. I also have bachelor of arts in geography I received from the University of Victoria in 2016. I am interested in learning more about the oceans and what can be done to make things better! In particular I am very interested in climate change and ocean acidification. Growing up minutes from the ocean I have many memories exploring. Seeing how vibrant and alive the coastal shorelines were lead to hours of looking under rocks as a child. Above all, I am most excited to learn from all of you!

Tell us something random about yourself: I have planted over 700,000 trees!

Erin Van Breda    
Meg Schmieder

Name: Meg Schmieder

Location : Toronto, ON

I grew up in Winnipeg, territory of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, Dene peoples and homeland of the Metis Nation. I spent several years in a small village of 200 (I know, only 200 people?!?) in Saskatchewan, called Grayson, also on the Land of the Metis Nation. I moved to Ottawa, Land of the Algonquin people, to study at Carleton University.

Now, I live on the unceded traditional Land of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Huron-wendat (Wyandot) and Mississaugas of the New Credit. Tkaronto, “where there are trees standing in the water”, “the meeting place”, is still very new to me. Love is what brought me to this city and what continues to hold me here. I have found friendship with some many other young academics and activists who are committed to ecological restoration and social justice. My partner and I plan on spending the next 5 years in Toronto finishing our graduate studies. 

Allan Gardens Conservatory | Toronto, ON

What gets me up in the morning ...

What gets me moving in the morning:

  • Stretching in the Sunlight,
  • watering the Plants that line my window sills,
  • snuggling Lila & Myrtle (our Kitties),
  • breakfast with Ry (my partner),
  • black coffee,
  • watching the news. 

Every morning I try to remind myself “today is another day to give a gift to the world”, “today is another day to show someone love”, “today is another day to challenge your perspectives and skills.” 

A bit about me ...

I recently completed an Honours Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management at Carleton University in Ottawa. I took an interest in environmental justice and post-colonial theory. Currently, I am applying for my graduate studies with the intention of researching environmental assessment law, adaptive governance structures, Indigenous research methods, and ecological sciences. I find myself drawn specifically to Water related issues due to Water’s fundamentality - being the utmost life giving and life sustaining force on Mother Earth.

An ocean-related issue close to my heart is...

It’s difficult to choose which Ocean-related issue is most dear to me because they are all intrinsically linked. However, growing up in a Western country I’m aware of the socio and ecological damage caused by Western greed and overconsumption. I’m aware that I’m a part of that problem and am in a privileged position to do something about it. 

Capitalism’s requirement for infinite growth, in a disposable single-use society, compounded by racism, sexism, and queerphobia, is a destructive and violent assault on our Earth and, naturally, ourselves. I joined Ocean Bridge in hopes of finding a community committed to finding solutions. 

I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because...

Forming a community around Water protection, restoration, and conservation is essential for the renewal of humanity’s relationship with Water. I’m excited to meet like-minded people that all offer different perspectives, ideologies, and stories!

I’m really grateful for the opportunity to meet other passionate young people. It gives me hope for the future of our Water ❤️

Tell us something random about yourself ...

A person I admire is...

Robin Wall Kimmerer. Much of her work has moved me and guided me in a loving direction. 

My favourite marine animal...

I LOVE river Otters. I see a lot of myself in them, in that were both playful, love fishing, and enjoy the company of others. 

Pascale Sylvester    
Megan Fass

Name: Megan Fass (they/them) 

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town): Currently - Vancouver, BC, unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Previously - Texas, traditional Wichita territory

What gets me up in the morning: Getting active, going on an urban adventure around the city, a good night in playing board games with friends.

A bit about me :

An ocean-related issue close to my heart is ecosystem stability. I studied coastal ecosystems in university, including kelp forests and mangrove forests. Many people don't realize how important these habitat formers are to maintaining coastal ecosystem diversity, plus they are great carbon sinks!

My earliest memory of the ocean is going to a beach in Southern California on vacation with my parents. I was 6 or 7 and absolutely SHOCKED that the ocean had SALT in it that HURT my EYES! Luckily, by the time I moved to Canada, I had learned to love the salty sea breeze. 

Tell us something random about yourself :

My favourite marine animal is a tie between sea otters and the Monterey sea lemon, Doris montereyensis. I'm really more of a marine plant person, and sea otters are integral for the health of kelp forests on the BC coast by controlling sea urchin populations. As for Doris montereyensis, I just think the sea lemons are cute.

Erin Van Breda    
Mirella Leis

Catch of the day: Cod jigging in Newfoundland 

Name: Hello! Oi! My name is Mirella Leis!

 Location:  I was born to Brazilian parents of Italian, Spanish and Portuguese descent in the countryside of São Paulo State, Brazil, Territory of the Tupi Guarani. At 17 years of age, I moved a coastal town in Southern Brazil, Territory of the Guarani, where I studied Oceanography and lived for about six years. There, most streets were made of sand, bicycles were the means of transportation, and the ocean was right across from the university building. In 2013, I had the opportunity of moving to Canada to pursue my Master's in Geography at Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Territory of Beothuk and Mi'kmaq, where I have been living and working since then. I fell in love with this island with its colourful row houses, its seasonal visitors along the rocky shores and am now proud to be a Canadian Permanent Resident. Today, I can say that I am a Brazilian by birth, and Newfoundlander by heart!

What gets me up in the morning: After a good yoga session and a cup of espresso, what gets me up in the morning is the realization that we are always learning – from experiences we have and people we meet – and the feeling that there is still so much for me to see and do. Especially concerning how I can contribute today to a future with healthy oceans and sustainable fisheries. I am passionate about nature and feel my best when I am outdoors fishing, hiking and camping. I am also into meditation, reading/writing, cooking/baking, learning photography, and playing guitar/ukulele. I love travelling, visiting new places, trying new food and learning about different cultures, but I especially enjoy going back to Brazil on holidays to visit my family, friends, and get lots of time by the ocean! 

 A bit about me: I am an Oceanographer and Geographer from Brazil, who has found in Canada an opportunity to express my love for the oceans and admiration for the people who rely on them for their livelihoods through my career path. I have been passionate about oceans and marine conservation for as long as I can remember. Perhaps it became clear when I read a book written by a Brazilian who paddled alone across the Atlantic in a rowboat, where he revealed his many encounters with giant whales, bioluminescent plankton, and other mysterious creatures. I am a firm believer that 'people protect what they love' - as Jacques-Yves Cousteau once said - and my love for the oceans led me on a journey to find ways of protecting it for us and those yet to come.

While working towards my Oceanography degree, I identified and mapped seagrass habitats for the conservation of the green sea turtle, an endangered species that rely heavily on these marine plants as feeding grounds. Later on, I realized the important role small-scale fishers play in the conservation of the marine environment. When doing my Master's research, I focused on understanding fishers' perceptions towards marine conservation, hoping to improve Marine Protected Area implementation and to mitigate their social impacts. 

I then became a Research Fellow with a global partnership for small-scale fisheries research called Too Big To Ignore and explored the diversity and complexity of small-scale fisheries globally, the diverse values that the activity brings to coastal communities and their importance in every continent. This experience helped me better understand the local context of Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries, which was essential when I started working as a Project Coordinator for the Ocean Frontier Institute. While overseeing an interdisciplinary team that investigates ocean governance in Newfoundland and Labrador, I have learned a lot about the past and present of fisheries in the province and hope to contribute to its sustainable future.

I am excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because this experience will allow me to network and exchange knowledge with other youth towards a common purpose: making a tangible contribution to Canada’s, and more specifically, Newfoundland and Labrador's coastal communities and the oceans that surround it.

Tell us something random about yourself: I used to get chased by rescue Magellanic penguins when I was a volunteer at an aquarium in Southeast Brazil! Also, I once went on a canoe trip in South Brazil, which was organized yearly to bring winter clothes, food and toys to remote fishing communities, only accessible by estuarine channels. For 15 days, we paddled night and day in 15 wooden canoes traditionally built from single tree trunks. We would stop by at the many houses of fishers and indigenous peoples along the way to donate what we had brought, gather around the fire for cooking, warming up and sharing stories. This was one of the most enlightening and eye-opening experiences I’ve had in my life, and I hold the people I met there, and their stories close to my heart.

Mirella Leis    

NameIly Roldán-Stack


I was raised and currently live on the traditional unceded unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin  Anishinabeg People (Ottawa, ON).  

What gets me up in the morning

Sunlight streaming in through my window, the sound of birds chirping, or trucks rumbling by on the busy street. Secondly: coffee, a podcast & watering my plants.

A bit about me:

I'm keen to learn more about marine conservation and the ecological integrity of our oceans and waterways because they are incredible interconnected systems that host a plethora of wildlife and are integral to the livelihoods of billions of people.

I've had the wonderful experience of doing outreach for Parks Canada for several years, and I especially love doing programming focused on environmental conservation. Currently, I work in a communications role for Parks Canada, in the Office of the Chief Ecosystem Scientist. I'd love to take what I learn from Ocean Bridge and apply it to my job (and vice-versa).

What I hope to gain from Ocean Bridge are the skills and knowledge that will give me the capacity to mobilize and educate the public in a meaningful way. I'm excited to connect with this network of passionate young leaders.

Tell us something random about yourself:

I really into urban issues, and am especially curious about public transit, cycling, and accessibility. I am also very scared of fish. 

Ily Roldan-Stack    
Paige Manitowabi

NamePaige Manitowabi

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town)Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory doonjaabaa, Sudbury Ndaa. I am from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory but I currently live in Sudbury, Ontario and working for Wahnapitae First Nation. I am located in the 3 fires (Odawa, Ojibway and Pottawattamii) Territory of the Anishnaabek people. I reside on the Traditional Territories of Wiikwemkoong, Aitikamisheng and Wahnapitae First Nations. 

What gets me up in the morning
: I have four beautiful children who keep me on my feet. They enjoy the same things I enjoy which is being out in the bush quading, hunting, fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, camping, harvesting plants, harvesting maple syrup and just sitting at camp by a fire roasting marshmallows! We are also involved in our traditional and cultural practices where we gain our knowledge of the lands and waters to upmost respect and protect it. I also enjoy my career as a Environmental Technician!

A bit about me: Well like I mentioned before I am a single mother. I am a Ojibwe and Pottawattamii Anishnaabek Kwe from Manitoulin Island. I went to school for Fish and Wildlife Conservation and now currently working for Wahnapitae First Nation as a Environmental Technician. I am also involved with Water First who is a non profit organization that trains youth in water science and provides First Nation drinking water awareness to the communities! An ocean-related issue close to my heart is hard to choose just one as all of these issues are heartbreaking. My earliest/most influential memory of the ocean is my passion to someday see the Ocean! I have never been able to physically see the ocean but one day I will. I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because I would like to do more for the Water Spirit! I'm super excited to meet youth across the country who ultimately have the same fight as me! 

Tell us something random about yourself (or use one of the following suggestions): My favorite marine and/or freshwater animal is the Turtles (M'shekehn)! 

Pascale Sylvester    
Ryan Brady

Name: Ryan Brady

Location: I'm originally from Brantford, ON, located on the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory, but I currently live in Waterloo, as a student at Wilfrid Laurier University.

What gets me up in the morning: I'm excited to finish up my final few months of undergrad so I can begin working on a Master's thesis in the Fall.

Ocean memories: The earliest memory of the ocean that I can think of is spending time at the beaches in St. Petersburg, Florida with my family. My more recent memories are when I went to Nova Scotia last Spring and got to see the amazing changing tides at the Bay of Fundy.

I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because... I'm really interested in working with other youth from across the country to figure out ways to better protect our water systems.

Something random: I’ve visited 6 provinces in the past year!

Ryan Brady    
Sam DeBellis

Name: Sam DeBellis

A bit about me: I love life in all of it's forms. If I have to get somewhere that's 5 minutes away I have to leave 20 minutes early because I'll spend 15 minutes marveling at flowers, listening to birds sing, and making small talk with some friendly stranger who I cross paths with along the way. I am an EXPERT at having fun. I love to dive, climb, swim, hike, sing, create, explore, cook and socialize. I've always been a very hard worker and I've developed a pattern of alternating between periods of intense work and intense rest. I'm always working on finding balance - it's never something I've been good at... as evidenced by my last sentence. I love to travel - usually for very extended periods of time.. Most recently, I spent 6 months living in Hawaii, surfing, diving and sharing aloha with my wonderful community on the daily. Seeing foreign landscapes, meeting new people and trying different foods is one of the most exciting parts of my life and something I prioritize. I'm 100% an island girl. I'm easy going, often late and a total beach bum. People tell me that they often feel comfortable and at ease around me. In school, I studied neuroscience and psychology. In life, I've served as a social worker, and I've recently started a new role with an environmental non-profit that facilitates ocean education and stewardship programs in the Vancouver area. I'm a lover, nurturer and giver. I like to read - mostly books about psychology, world religions, and ways of mind. Right now I'm working through Eckhart Tolle's works. My favorite genres of music are reggae and 90's-00's HipHop/R&B. I'm an ambivert. One of my favorite things to do is to turn my music up really loud, sing even louder and dance like no ones watching. I also really really enjoy eating, cooking, and feeding others. And that is just a BIT about ME! 

An ocean related issue close to my heart: The preservation of the worlds coral reefs.

My favourite marine animals: Yellowtail Coris, Christmas Wrasse, Humuhumunukunukuapua'a, Nudibranchs, Dolphins, Red Pencil Sea Urchins, anddddddd last but not least, pretty much all species of coral

Sam DeBellis    
Sarah Dubord-Fortin

Nom : Sarah Dubord-Fortin

Lieu : J’ai grandi sur le territoire traditionnel Abénaquis et Wabanaki, à Brigham, un petit village des Cantons-de-l’Est, au Québec. Durant mes études, j’habite à Sherbrooke, au Québec, encore une fois sur les terres traditionnelles Abénaquis et Wabanaki.

Qu'est-ce qui me motive à sortir du lit chaque matin? Je dirais que ce qui me motive à sortir du lit est d’abord la nécessité de terminer ma maîtrise en environnement! Je travaille notamment sur l’adaptation aux changements climatiques. Bien sûr, un bon café aide toujours à survivre aux matins. Autrement, la protection de l’environnement et la conviction de se dire qu’il n’est pas trop tard pour agir sont des moteurs importants pour moi. 

Un peu à propos de moi : J’ai cherché longtemps quoi faire dans la vie, cette quête m’a mené à réaliser un baccalauréat en études de l’environnement. J’ai pu toucher à plusieurs domaines, les sols, l’eau, les écosystèmes, la communication, la politique. J’ai compris que l’environnement se manifestait dans toutes les sphères de la vie et qu’il y avait toujours quelque chose à faire pour en prendre soin. Cela pouvait être une véritable carrière, au-delà d’un « simple » intérêt pour la nature. Je poursuis présentement mes études à la maîtrise, toujours dans le domaine de l’environnement. Dès mon plus jeune âge, j’ai toujours aimé me retrouver en nature, randonnée en forêt, plein air, près des lacs, rivières ou montagnes. Il y a également eu des éléments marquants qui m’ont rapproché de l’eau, dont les traditionnelles vacances en famille l’été. Une condition requise, il devait y avoir un accès à l’eau. Que ce soit les rives du Saint-Laurent ou encore les côtes américaines, ces endroits ont marqué mes souvenirs année après année. Encore aujourd’hui, nous essayons de conjuguer nos horaires pour passer quelques jours les pieds sur la grève ou dans le sable. Un rien me comble au bord de l’eau ; passer des heures à observer les baleines ou encore à admirer les oiseaux marins. Malheureusement, cet environnement est menacé. Un problème qui me préoccupe énormément est la perte de biodiversité. En plus de tous les biens et services que la diversité biologique marine, je trouve qu’elle mérite d’exister pour sa valeur intrinsèque. Nous nous devons de changer nos pratiques pour la préserver. Je suis excitée de faire partie de l'équipe Portail Océan parce que se retrouver entouré de gens partageant les mêmes préoccupations et intérêt sera très énergisant à mon avis! 

Quelque chose de surprenant ou de particulier à propos de moi : J’écoute des documentaires animaliers pour me relaxer. C’est encore mieux lorsque David Attenborough en fait la narration.

Mon animal marin préféré : Les requins! Quel animal fascinant…

Pascale Sylvester    
Sarah Gutzmann

Name: Sarah Gutzmann

Location: I am fortunate to have grown up (and currently reside) amongst the forests, mountains, and waters of North Vancouver, which is within the traditional and unceded territories of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.

What gets me up in the morning: 
Literally, my alarm clock as well as the promise of breakfast and tea. Overall though, I love what I do. Even on days when working in the environmental field feels particularly hopeless, I have amazing friends and coworkers who keep me motivated and inspired. 
A bit about me: I started a career in ocean conservation back in 2009 as a very eager teenager who began volunteering at the Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise initiative. Since then, I have been actively involved in environmental conservation initiatives while completing high school and university, graduating with a BSc (Honours) in Environmental Science and a minor in Environmental Toxicology this past June. My career thus far has allowed me to work in both public outreach and education (focusing both on marine sciences and Arctic ecosystems) and more traditional science/research type positions. Overall, I am passionate about science communication and making research more accessible to people from different backgrounds. This includes building capacity for community-based resource management (like fisheries – which I focused on in my honours thesis) and making science more collaborative so that it better meets the needs of both people and the environment. In the near future, I’m hoping to go back to university for graduate school, but in the meantime, I’m keeping myself busy trying to publish a manuscript and working as an Environmental Scientist. In whatever free time I have, I love being outdoors, traveling, reading, or painting.

I’m very excited to be joining Ocean Bridge this year because the planet is facing numerous conservation crises. I believe that as youth, we have the passion, energy, and experience to be the change we need to see in the world. I think that Ocean Bridge is an incredible opportunity to give back to my community, learn from experts and peers, and make a real difference for our oceans.

Tell us something random about yourself: 
A random fun fact about me is that I’m a published poet! More on theme though, one of my favourite marine animals are sea urchins because they have some amazing and underrated adaptations. But also, sea otters, spiny lumpsuckers, grunt sculpin, and cuttlefish.

Pascale Sylvester    
Sarah-Anne Thompson

Name: Sarah-Anne 

Location: I currently live in Guelph, Ontario, traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory

What gets me up in the morning? Coffee accompanied with a nice morning album, and, when accessable, a good polar dip! I'm motivated by both my studies (and deadlines) and the time that I get to spend with my wonderful friends.

A bit about me:  I'm studying Geography at the University of Guelph while working in the Conservation through Reconciliation program! I'm really interested in Canadian conservation policy, and how it can better advance Indigenous-led conservation efforts in the spirit of reconciliation and decolonization. I studied ethnobotany and resource management systems in Haida Gwaii, BC last summer and really solidified my interest in Indigenous-led conservation, co-management of parks and protected areas, and how conservation can be a tool for community capacity building. Ah! I love to sew, sail, and watch things I've planted grow. I call both Guelph, Ontario and Lions Head, Ontario home, and I feel most myself swimming in freshwater lakes.

Something random about myself: My friends and I are in a band called Bogman! We wear our rubber boots to shows.  

Sarah-Anne Thompson    
Sarina Pasciuta

Name: Sarina Pasciuta

Location : I was born and raised on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe First Nations, also known as Windsor, Ontario. I am currently living on the territory of the Algonquin First Nations (Ottawa, Ontario).

What gets me up in the morning : A yummy breakfast & some yoga! Being active is an important part of my life so you can find me snowboarding in the winters and biking, hiking & canoeing in the summers. I love exploring the outdoors and travelling. I also love spending time with my friends and family.

A bit about me : Although I didn’t grow up near the ocean I lived near Lake St.Clair & Blue Heron pond and always found the waters edge a calming place to be. My love for the ocean comes from my passion for the environment. Growing up I spent my summers camping with my family & playing outside which is what sparked my interest and love for nature. This passion led me to Ottawa to complete a Baccalauréat spécialisé en Études de l’Environnement at the University of Ottawa. 

Being active is also an important part of my life. I played competitive soccer for 12 years and played other sports in high school including volleyball and basketball. Once I moved to Ottawa I got the opportunity to snowboard more often and am now one of the organizers of the University of Ottawa’s ski and snowboard club.

I aspire to one day be a teacher as it has been a lifelong goal of mine. I hope to bring outdoor & ocean education to my classroom! I also think it is important to share our connection to nature with our youth & educate them on the environmental issues our society is facing.

My earliest memory of the ocean :  Snorkeling with my family in Roatan, Honduras! This experience helped me grow an appreciation for the aquatic ecosystem because I find it so interesting there is so much more going on underwater then we realize from our view of the water’s surface.

Ocean Related Issue Close to my Heart : Ocean pollution. Although I did not grow up near the Ocean,  it is disheartening knowing that the nearest source of aquatic beauty for me and other Ontarians are all under an enormous amount of environmental stress due to intense pollution. No matter how far Windsor or Ottawa is from the Atlantic Ocean, how we treat our watershed reflects in its health.

Something Random about me : I absolutely adore flowers & i love gummies...any kind...gummy bears, gummy worms, you name it & I’ll gladly eat it!

Pascale Sylvester    
Siobhan Takala

Name: Siobhan Takala

Where I'm From: I grew up on the prairies, on Plains Cree Territory and the Homeland of the Metis Nation, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. However, these days I am most often a guest in Miꞌkmaꞌki, the ancestral and unceded land of the Mi’kmaq, specifically in K'jipuktuk (Halifax, Nova Scotia). 

What Gets Me Up: I love learning, moving my body, spending sweet, sweet time with the people I love, and spending time outside! These passions manifest in many ways… like swimming, dancing, surfing, learning new instruments or a new recipe, practicing spanish, visiting loved ones, reading and writing, and spending time in the company of the sea or trees! I am truly so happy if I get to swim outside, often, and laugh with my people.

A Bit About Me:  My earliest/most influential memory of the ocean…is visiting the Pacific Ocean for the first time at 8 years old. My family was in Vancouver to visit family, and I remember so much curiosity and awe going through my little body!

I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because…I am excited to connect with other young, passionate creatives and innovators who care about our precious, beautiful earth. I am excited to learn and grow together with new people! I am excited to feel connected, seen, and inspired.

Something Random:  One of my favourite books is The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman! (not actually about oceans, but is a very good book, and about something that impacts ocean health greatly).

Pascale Sylvester    
Taylor Arnt

Name:  Taylor Arnt

Location: I was born on Treaty Two territory, in a small town close to my mother's home community of Tootinaowaziibeeng (which is a Treaty Four Anishnaabe community). When I was 6, I moved to a municipality just outside Winnipeg, which is on Treaty One territory, home of the Chippewa and Swampy Cree nations. From 2016 to 2020, I lived in Ottawa, home to the unceded, unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin nation.

What gets me up in the morning: 
-Leaving the window open so light can filter in through my room.

-Setting my intentions for the day (usually one thing I'm excited about  + one thing I want to accomplish).

-A good cup of coffee (preferably local, preferably sweet).

-A 45 minute morning class at my gym to kick my ass in gear!

-Knowing that as a morning person, the earlier I'm productive, the more I'll get out of my day.

A bit about me: 

I am a graduating student in the Honours Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management program at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. I see policy as an opportunity to find innovative solutions to collective problems, and dedicated most of my research interests towards Indigenous topics. My studies allowed me incredible learning and leadership opportunities. One of my favourites being a geopolitical mapping project I was able to conduct in partnership with a Q'eqchi' Maya community last summer in Belize, and my other favourite being the past two years I've spent as an undergraduate representative on my university's Board of Governors, where I was able to affect change on issues like gender-based violence, operationalizing TRC calls to action and environmental projects. Aside from school, I absolutely love anything creative (especially writing/photography), and my favourite way to spend time outdoors is snowboarding (alongside my lovely cohort members Ali, Sarina and Ily who I had the pleasure of being in Carleton's Ski & Snowboard Club for my first season with this past year!). 

I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because... I've never done anything like this! Having grown up in the prairies, I'd never been exposed to information about ocean conservation, so I think this is the perfect experiential learning opportunity. Everyone in this cohort seems so passionate and informed about pressing environmental issues, so I'm excited to learn and channel my own passions into projects that can help other living beings.

A person I admire is... Christi Belcourt. She's an incredible Metis artist and Indigenous rights/environmental activist who uses art to draw attention to important issues- her work on "Walking with our Sisters" and "Water is Life" really speak to me. I'm also inspired by Autumn Peltier's speeches, Pamela Palmater's writing, and the child welfare work of one of my personal mentors, Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux.

My favourite marine animal: It's a tie between humpback whales and sea turtles. When I was fifteen, my mom and I went on a whale watching tour on Vancouver island and were lucky enough to see a whale jumping out of the water. Last year, I visited Maui, Hawaii, where sea turtles were found on the shore everywhere. Watching animals be completely uninhibited by your existence is one of the most humbling and beautiful parts about nature to me.

(Here I am at a waterfall in Maui last year!)

Taylor Arnt