OWLS ’21 Announcement
The Ontario Wilderness Leadership Symposium (aka OWLS) is an annual COEO event organized to support the development of emerging wilderness trip leaders in Ontario. This year, OWLS has transitioned to a virtual format and will be focused on the themes of anti-racism, anti-colonialism and anti-oppression in wilderness leadership.
OWLS 2021 has received generous financial support from Cabela’s Canada Outdoor Fund.
OWLS 2021 is being planned for a Friday night and Saturday on April 30th – May 1st. This event will take place online, using Zoom. Participants will be invited to attend a variety of informative workshops, reflective discussion sessions, and networking activities with an incredible group of people. To increase access, registration costs are on a sliding scale: $5 or $25. All ticket proceeds will go towards paying our facilitators for their time, energy, and work.
Front line outdoor professionals, with experience or interest in leading wilderness trips are encouraged to participate in this annual professional development event.
Registration is now open!
Registration is now open for OWLS ’21. The OWLS Planning Team is expecting that there will once again be a lot of interest in this event. The event is limited to 90 participants, and so it is important that you register online for OWLS – Virtual Version as soon as possible. You do NOT need to be a COEO member in order to register. Once you’ve registered online, please complete and return the supplementary information form found here in order to confirm your choice of workshops on Saturday.
A word about registration fees
Although the main objective of this event is to offer a significant learning and networking experience at a highly reduced cost, the OWLS Organizing Committee realizes that even the sliding scale registration fee ($5 – $25) may discourage some people from registering, and so the COEO Board of Directors has set aside funds for any individuals who require financial assistance in order to attend OWLS ’21. Those wishing to apply for this can submit a letter to OWLS Co-Chair, Kyle Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 25th, 2021.
Similarly, in order to recognize the emotional labour involved in attending a symposium focused on the topics of anti-oppression for those identifying as BIPOC or from traditionally marginalized communities in outdoor spaces, please note we are pleased to offer FREE registration for anyone who belongs to one of these previously under-represented communities. If this is you, you are welcome to complete the Google Form found HERE in order to register for free.
What exactly is OWLS?
OWLS is not a comprehensive guides course or wilderness leadership training program, but rather a short, two-day professional development opportunity for emerging wilderness leaders. The Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario recognized that many of Ontario’s young outdoor educators (especially those working in the area of wilderness leadership) were unable, for a variety of reasons (timing, cost, etc.), to participate in a number of already established professional development conferences and events that take place annually. And so, OWLS has been created to serve the specific needs of this group of developing young professionals. OWLS provides an opportunity for wilderness leaders to connect, share ideas, and learn from established professionals in the field. In addition, COEO is committed to securing funding to help offset the cost of this event and keep the application fee as low as possible for participants.
If you are a recent University or College graduate or nearing completion (from an academic outdoor recreation program or otherwise) and/or already have some professional experience leading wilderness trips for a summer camp, outdoor school or leadership program, commercial outfitter or other organization, you can register NOW to attend OWLS 2021! Please spread the word about this event to others you think would benefit from attending. On April 30th, we will be welcoming the first 90 registered participants who are eager to learn, develop their wilderness leadership skills, network with experienced professionals working in this field, meet peers from different organizations, and participate in all aspects of the event.
What to expect
Moving from words to Action: Anti-racism, Anti-colonialism and anti-oppression in the outdoor profession and how we can do more. This is the theme of this year’s event.
Goal: To engage new and seasoned outdoor professionals in an immersive weekend of Anti-racism, Anti-colonialism, and Anti-oppressive training, workshops, and action oriented planning on how to make the profession more inclusive, equitable and just.
OWLS 2021 is planned for April 30th and May 1st, 2021. This event will take place entirely online this year. You will be invited to participate in a variety of informative workshops, planning sessions, and fun networking activities with an incredible group of people. Come prepared with an open mind to learn and explore new ideas.
*Please note that all times listed are in EDT – Eastern Daylight Time
Friday, April 30th, 2021
6:00 – 6:10 p.m. Welcome to OWLS 2021!
6:10 – 6:30 p.m. Traditional Indigenous Opening (Caleb Musgrave – Canadian Bushcraft)
6:30 – 7:00 p.m. Introductory Speed-Networking Activity
7:00 – 7:50 p.m. Opening Keynote Presentation – Tori Baird
Tori will speak about her experiences learning to paddle and how she gradually became more confident in the outdoors. She’ll share stories about some of the challenges she has faced on her adventures, as well as her most memorable moments in the backcountry. She will also discuss her goals as she gains recognition as a woman and person of colour in the canoeing and outdoor industry.
Tori has been canoeing whitewater for the last 9 years, navigating some of Ontario’s most challenging whitewater rivers; in 2015 she paddled the East Natashquan in Northern Quebec, in 2016 the Porcupine River in Northern Saskatchewan. And in 2017 she paddled the Mountain River in the Northwest Territories only a few days after completing an 8-day, 160km backpacking trek across the Rocky Mountains from Jasper to Grande Cache.
After completing a solo backcountry canoe trip she was inspired to launch her business Paddle Like a Girl in hopes of empowering other women to get out into nature. Paddle Like a Girl is a two-day paddling workshop for women that Tori runs out of her property on the Magnetawan River. Her goal is to instill confidence in the participants to start planning and executing their own backcountry canoe trips. The workshops cover all the basics of backcountry canoeing from trip planning and map reading to meal prep, waterproofing gear and fire lighting, but the main focus is on paddling skills.
Tori has contributed to Outpost Magazine, Explore Magazine, has been a guest on several podcasts, presented at London’s Paddle Shop and was featured in Export Development Canada’s profile of Nova Craft Canoe in 2019.
7:50 – 8:15 p.m. Time to connect as a small discussion group
8:15 – 8:30 p.m. Looking ahead to Saturday and Prize Draw!
8:30 – 9:30 p.m. Evening backcountry skills session – Caleb Musgrave
Caleb Musgrave is a Mississauga Man of the Crane Clan. For the past 23 years, he has been training and learning bush skills ranging from wilderness survival, to tracking, to traditional Indigenous crafts, to wild food of all sorts. He is a trapper, an Archaeologist, a seed saver, a forager and a hunter. In 2008 Caleb started Canadian Bushcraft, where he teaches the public everything he has learned. He also consults for television, radio and film in regards to wilderness skills and Indigenous environmental knowledge.
Saturday, May 1st, 2021
9:15 to 10:00 a.m. Pre-start Coffee Chat (informal and optional)
10:00 – 10:10 a.m. Welcome back! Review of the day’s upcoming events & Prize draw
10:10 – 10:40 a.m. Time to connect as a small discussion group
10:45 – 11:45 a.m. Session A (choice of 2 workshops)
*Workshop Session A – Option 1:
Do you want to build creative and inclusive programs for 2SLGBTQ+ children and youth? – Kymani Montgomery
More young people identity within the 2SLBGTQ+ community than ever before. How do we intentionally create spaces that they feel safe in? Join Kymani Montgomery, from the Ten Oaks Project, to explore what actions we can take to make these spaces more common.
Kymani (he/him) is a Black, queer, immigrant who has worked with children and youth for over 10 years. With a background in political science and education, Kymani strives to help children and youth have difficult conversations about racism, gender, sexuality, and class. He wants to bring recreation and camping to communities that have been historically shut out. Kymani has worked in both overnight and day camps in Canada, the USA, and Switzerland. In his free time, he enjoys video games, painting, unsuccessful baking, and reading Black feminist authors.”
*Workshop Session A – Option 2:
Inclusion in wilderness leadership: A focus on disability and neurodivergence – Keegan Kesteloot
In this workshop we will discuss and speak in what inclusivity means for neurodivergent people’s. We will take deep dives into program practices and some suggestions from working in the field and in a more formal setting as well. If you want to take a look at accessibility through the eyes of a neurodivergent, join Keegan, from the Kinark Outdoor Centre, in this session.
My name is Keegan Kesteloot. I am a recent graduate of the Lakehead University ORPT program and have held the title of ORSS (Outdoor Recreation Students Society) president for the past two years. When I was much younger I was introduced to the importance and inclusion in programming and further outdoor programing. This has aided in driving my passion of making the outdoors a space for all, with a focus on therapeutic recreation and access to recreation. Through education and leadership positions I have started to act upon this passion and have developed programs for clients who are neurodivergent.
11:45 – 12:15 p.m. Small group discussion – Workshop reflection activity
12:15 – 12:30 p.m. Large Group Sharing
12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Lunch/outdoor break – no formal sessions
1:30 -1:45 p.m. Whole group energizer/regroup & Prize draw
1:45 – 2:45 p.m. Session B (choice of 2 workshops)
*Workshop Session B – Option 1:
Anti-colonialism and Wilderness Leadership – Kory Snache
Kory will be presenting best practices when engaging Indigenous communities with the main focus on first steps when it comes to partnering with Indigenous communities and organizations to create a long lasting program with meaningful impact.
Kory Snache/Giniw is Anishnaabe from the Ojibwe community of Rama. He has worked and continues to work in various capacities in the outdoor adventure industry from a front line guide to various management and leadership roles. Currently his main focus is Indigenous land based cultural education and he currently works at Rosseau Lake College as an Outdoor Education and History teacher. He currently resides in Anishnaabeg territory in Parry Sound, Ontario.
*Workshop Session B – Option 2:
Anti-Black Racism and Wilderness Leadership – Anaya Bani and Olivier Adrien
Join Anaya (she/they) and Olivier (he/they) for this 1 hour anti-racism workshop where they will unpack unconscious bias, power & privilege and share tools on how to work with youth in the outdoor industry. This is a 101 level training and will conclude with a brief Q & A.
Anaya Bani (she/they) is a first generation ‘Canadian’ (‘internal migrant’) and a descendant of the transatlantic enslavement trade. Her family immigrated from Guyana to eastern Canada during the initiation of the Canadian Multicultural Policy in 1971 which resulted in an influx of Caribbean immigrants seeking a better life in Canada.
Anaya’s work involves historic, intergenerational, and personal trauma recovery, supporting Queer Trans Black Indigenous People of Color (QTBIPOC) in healing through land connection, food sovereignty, and offering anti-racism workshops to help ‘Canadians’ embody healthy racial identities and reimagine equitable structures of power. Anaya is an educator, activist and Theater of the Oppressed (TO) ‘Joker.’
Olivier Adrien (he/they) is a first generation Black Haitian-Canadian, a proud queer person of colour and a lover of the outdoors.
Olivier is a social worker and has worked primarily in black communities through research projects designed to quantify disparity in race relations regarding, education, police interactions, equitable access to systems, and colonial trauma. Over time he has created workshops promoting anti-oppression focusing on intersectionality and “calling-in” norms as opposed to “calling-out” conditioned behaviour. Olivier is a canoe tripper, activist and community healer.
2:45 to 3:15 p.m. Where do we go from here? Final small group discussion focused on action planning, closing reflections and takeaways
3:15- 4:15 p.m. Closing Workshop – Judith Kasiama of Colour the Trails
Workshop details to come!
Judith is a content creator, model and community activist who resides on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded Indigenous territories of the ʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations. Through adventures and travel, Judith highlights her experience as a black woman that skis, hikes, camps, climbs, and explores. A former refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, she was raised in South Africa, Australia, The United States and Canada. Judith’s unique upbringing allows her to draw from diverse experiences and cultures. Judith’s active participation in the outdoors brings to light the importance of representation. Through conversation and grace her work draws attentions to underrepresented minorities by changing the narrative that people of colour are not active participants in the outdoors. Judith is the fellow at the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. She is the founder of Colour the Trails, a community group that focuses on getting Black, Indigenous and People of Colour out in nature. Judith believes nature is for everyone.
4:15 – 4:45 p.m. Traditional Closing – Caleb Musgrave
4:45 – 5:00 p.m. Thank you to everyone! Final Prize draw & Goodbye!
This year’s incredible presenter line up will offer a wide variety of topics, sure to increase your knowledge and encourage you to grow as a wilderness trip leader. Prepare to be amazed by the stories of some truly inspiring leaders in the outdoor world!
A huge thanks goes out to each of this year’s amazing mentors who are generously offering their time and expertise to all those who will be attending this year’s Ontario Wilderness Leadership Symposium.
Scenes from previous OWLS!
Registration is now open!
The OWLS Planning Team is expecting to once again receive many registrations for this event. Registration deadline is April 28th, 2021. The event is limited to 90 participants, and so it is important to register online to reserve your spot!
To register now for OWLS – Virtual Version click here. Once registered, please don’t forget to confirm your choice of workshops on Saturday by completing the supplementary information form found here.
Let us know if you have any questions. Send an email to: email@example.com. Also, check back to this webpage and the COEO Facebook page frequently, as more information regarding specific workshops will soon be posted.
Have you seen the OFFICIAL 2021 ONTARIO WILDERNESS LEADERSHIP SYMPOSIUM POSTER yet? (see below) Download a copy for your very own, print and display it with pride in your centre, school, camp, store, park, staffroom, office or outhouse!