“Full Circle Moment”: Young BC Newcomers to Lead Nature Walks For Their Communities

May 29, 2024
Members of MOSAIC just before snowtubing on Cypress Mountain in February, 2024. One participant shared, "Please do more like this, I never went snow tubing before, it’s the most fun I had in Canada!"

“Full Circle Moment”: Young BC Newcomers to Lead Nature Walks For Their Communities

The latest round of grants from our Spark Fund program has just reached twelve community-serving groups across BC.

This summer, 1,300 individuals will utilize their Spark funding to organize a diverse array of outdoor activities within BC Parks.

Recipients of Spark grants design their own initiatives, aimed at both protecting the parks themselves and enhancing participant well-being through the restorative power of nature.

“Their projects are key to our mission to create the best park system in the world,” says Sid Venkatesh, Community Projects Manager at BC Parks Foundation. “We're grateful to everyone who applies for funding and goes on to do amazing things, and to see each group enhancing BC parks more and more with every activity.”

This summer, Sid is particularly excited for third-year grant recipients MOSAIC BC.

As one of Canada’s largest organizations helping immigrants and refugees start a new life, they’ll embrace a new endeavor that builds on what they’ve learned in the past.

Sid says, “It's a beautiful, full-circle moment.”

Resilience in Nature

The clients who participate in the Moving Ahead program at MOSAIC face multiple barriers to settlement.

“For refugees, who have been forced out of their homeland,” says Monica Navarro-Cespedes, Coordinator of Youth Projects at MOSAIC BC, “spending time outdoors and creating connections while having fun, can actually make it easier for them to connect with the land.”

She recalls a Spark-funded field trip last year when her clients were able to spend the day in play. “Usually, the last thing on their minds is leisure. Like, it's a different mindset. So, for that day, they’re not thinking, ‘I must look for work. How can I make ends meet?’ For that day, they have a mental health break.”

This summer, they’ll use their Spark funding to create infographics on outdoor safety, regional wildlife and park etiquette into languages including Farsi, Arabic, and Tigrinya.

And the full-circle moment Sid’s excited for?

Keen young MOSAIC clients will get the opportunity to complete special training as Green Ambassadors—leading their own communities in a variety of nature activities.

Monica shares a story about a family of three youths who are in BC by themselves and who are perfect for this kind of training.

One day last summer, the siblings borrowed some badminton equipment, a shade tent, and a picnic blanket that MOSAIC had purchased with Spark funding.

A couple weeks later, Monica noticed them returning to the centre with the gear.

“And I thought, ‘Oh no, I guess they didn’t enjoy it.’”

But she was pleasantly surprised.

“They came up to me and said, ‘We’ve been going to the park. Every. Single. Day. Sometimes we even eat dinner at the park! And now we’re on our way to the Community Centre, because we met some new friends, and we’re going to play badminton with them!’”

It's exactly what Monica was hoping to hear.

“Getting access to these equipment, resources, and training, it just amplifies the strengths they already have to connect and adapt,” she says. “Their resiliency is truly humbling.”

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