Trans CanEAUda

How one group of friends turned an adventure into a fundraiser

Alexandre Bevington, 23
Ellorie McKnight, 23
Xavier Giroux Bougard, 24
Karine Houde, 23
Louis-Philippe Robillard, 22
Dalal Hanna, 23
Katya Saulnier Jutras, 23
Nicolas Descrochers, 21
Ottawa, Ontario

“The Trans CanEAUda project could have just been about a group of friends going on a summer adventure,” says Éric Hébert-Daly, the national executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). “The fact that eight youths were touched enough to dedicate a 7,000-kilometre paddle to wilderness conservation says to us that this country’s future is in good hands.”

The Ottawa-based friends launched their canoes into the Ottawa River on April 30 with the goal of following First Nations and voyageur routes to the Arctic Ocean at Inuvik, Northwest Territories, by October. Along the way they’re raising both money for CPAWS and Ottawa Riverkeeper, and awareness about threatened watersheds throughout the country. As this issue of explore went to press, the team was in central Saskatchewan.

They picked a tough year for it: The paddlers have struggled against cold, wet weather and high water. But the long days on Lake Superior early in the trip were the hardest. “We would sometimes spend a full day in the boat, seeing our destination, but feeling like it wasn’t getting any closer,” says team member Ellorie McKnight.

This profile is part of our Top 30 under 30 feature.