Our Stories

Supporting Young Aboriginal Stewards

Congratulations to Johanna Walker-Gordon who coordinates the SEAS program in Bella Bella, in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, for being awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.


The future of Canada’s expansive and awe-inspiring landscapes depends on its future stewards, the youth of indigenous communities.

Surprisingly, youth in many remote communities can be as disconnected from nature as their counterparts in large, urban cities. Their world is dominated by sophisticated technology—computers, video games, “smart” phones and television—that take more and more time away from being in the natural world just outside their doorstep.

So, how do you help prepare young people for the roles they will one day play in protecting the land of their ancestors?

Bringing Their Backyard to Life

SEAS (Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards) Community Initiative is a partnership of TNC Canada, indigenous communities and schools, and local environmental nonprofit organizations.

The initiative empowers youth to be stewards of their land and natural resources by building educational capacity, creating opportunities for hands-on field experiences, and supporting youth in pursuit of their educational and career goals.

Through SEAS, TNC Canada is helping support youth programs developed by aboriginal communities, for aboriginal communities. The programs are designed by partners, rooted in local knowledge, and spearheaded by local leaders who blend traditional knowledge with western science approaches.  

School Programs

Opportunities for youth of all ages are diverse but can include:

  • nature-based classroom and outdoor activities
  • interactive technology that brings nature to life in the classroom
  • school-wide nature events and contests
  • mentors from the local professionals and elders community

Through SEAS, students witness the salmon life cycle by visiting a river during spawning, and understand bear safety and ecology, and learn traditional plant medicine.

Students research herring harvest, recipes, ecology, and history, and use remote cameras to capture wildlife on film for interpretive trail signs.

Summer Internships Programs

To compliment activities in the classroom, nonprofit organizations and band councils offer summer internships so high school students can work alongside land and resource officers in their traditional territory.

For eight weeks the interns analyze deer pellets and survey sea mammals; they set minnow traps and learn about the life cycle of salmon. As interns, students gain hands-on experience in biological science, research and resource management and get a real-life taste of what it’s like to work in these fields.

SEAS Community Initiative Partners

TNC Canada
Pacific Wild
Bella Bella Community School
Hartley Bay School
QQS Projects Society
Gitga’at Land and Resources Stewardship Society
Cetacea Lab

You Can Help!

You can make a lasting difference for indigenous communities, ensuring their next generation of leaders are connected to their home and empowered through education, mentorship and community support.