A four-day expedition to the Bay of Fundy earlier this month changed the life of a young Wolastoqey.
“If I hadn’t been on this ship, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do everything I did there,” said Korey Lyons, of Sistansisk (St. Mary’s First Nation), near Fredericton.
“I’ve never seen water the same way.”
The 20-year-old joined three other young Wolastoqey aboard the Polar Prince as part of a research trip organized by the Students on Ice Foundation.
The Wolastoqey Cohort boarded the 76-meter vessel for the Bay of Fundy leg of the main expedition September 13-18, exploring the areas around Grand Manan Island, Campobello Island and Wolf.
The ship’s main expedition, lasting nearly a month, brought together students, scholars, artists and the media and also partnered with some Mi’kmaw and Passamaquoddy communities.
The Wolastoqey cohort learned about marine conservation and was involved in marine biology research, microplastics investigations, and beach cleanups.
Lyons said she learned to identify male and female lobsters by the roughness of the tail. It was her first time on a boat and said she would recommend the experience to anyone.
“It was really exciting for me,” Lyons said.
She said she hopes to pursue a career in marine biology.
“I didn’t want to go down,” Lyons said.
“I wanted to stay and continue the journey and see what discoveries I could uncover.”
The other young Wolastoqey were Darrenn Saulis, Paul Sappier and Lindsay Davidson.
Davidson said the trip opened his eyes to the ubiquity of microplastics in the ocean.
“It kind of opened up a whole new world,” Davidson said.
She said she hoped people would realize just how much trash is dumping into the ocean.
Davidson said her biggest challenge was being away from her three children on the trip, but the trip left her inspired.
Ken Paul, who helped coordinate some of the searches, said he was proud of how quickly the youngsters got used to being on the ocean.
“They took to it, like fish to water,” Paul said.
Paul said overall it was a wonderful experience. He said the scientists were willing to teach, but also wanted to learn more about Wolastoqey culture and knowledge.
He said the biggest challenge they faced was the time of year. Paul said many young people have to work around their work and school schedules, but he hopes this will work in the future.
“It’s one of the few times our youth have had work experience in the science sector in our traditional territories,” said Paul.