UNICEF Canada Youth Advocate Daniel, 17, British Columbia  

When we think about environmental conservation, we often imagine futuristic technologies and groundbreaking innovations. However, I recently led an expedition with some friends through Greenfutures, a youth-led non-profit organization I founded. We set out to discover the clam gardens along the coasts of British Columbia—a remarkable heritage site surprisingly close to my home that I had never known about before. This trip not only transformed my understanding of sustainability but also ignited my passion to engage in our local environments. 

Indigenous peoples have been building clam gardens for at least 3,500 years. Research shows that these gardens are three times more productive than wild beaches in producing clams, such as the butter clam and littleneck clams. During spring break, we explored the clam gardens on the coasts of British Columbia. These are closed to the public but were made accessible to us with the support and permission of Parks Canada and the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council Society. 

We engaged in hands-on activities that brought the reality of environmental issues into sharp focus. Digging clams and feeling the cold, wet sand made the abstract concepts of conservation real and urgent.  

We listened to the stories of a W̱SÁNEĆ elder on the ancient shores of Russell Island. They were valuable lessons about living sustainably and respecting the earth. Everyone and everything are connected, and that conservation is about preserving cultural heritage as much as protecting nature.  

All the learnings and interviews were later made into a documentary to raise awareness about the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems and the importance of preserving Indigenous culture. This way, we hope to inspire others to take action and recognize the significance of traditional ecological knowledge.  

This journey was transformative, and I realized the immense value of connecting with and protecting our local environment. The ocean breeze was wild, and waves pounded against me as the boat turned. There were sediments of civilization and culture in every piece of the island. The sand came almost entirely from the shells of clams.  

I urge everyone to explore their local ecosystems, learn about their area's history and traditional practices, and get involved to protect the environment around you. 

To me, the first step in environmental conservation begins with education. Read books, watch documentaries, and follow reputable sources on environmental science and climate change. Then, get involved locally by joining or starting an environmental club at school, or participating in local clean-up events, tree planting, or conservation projects. Advocacy also plays a significant role. Use your voice to write to local politicians, participate in climate marches, and raise awareness through social media to drive change. 

This journey was just the beginning for me, and I hope it inspires others to take their first steps toward a more sustainable world. Whether it’s supporting local conservation initiatives, participating in community clean-ups, or making more environmentally friendly choices, every action makes a difference.  

This is a guest author blog. The views or opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policy of UNICEF Canada.