In the wilderness lies the preservation of the world.
Henry David Thoreau
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For three months I have been living in the Arctic now; I learned to embrace the freezing cold and the return of the sun, I enjoy the warm hearts of the Gwich’in, and I experience how their traditional lifestyle sustains them in the rough North. In a remote place like this, where everything in the store has made a long travel up north, there is no true sense of independence or even survival without the land, the nature around. The water, the food, the medicine, the whole physical, cultural and spiritual subsistence comes from your surroundings. And these surroundings stretch as far as the Peel River Watershed, one of the last untouched wilderness areas on this planet.
Just three months, and yet I have also experienced how dull life can be in a remote place like this, especially during long, cold and dark winters. I got a sense of how easy it is to lose motivation and perspective in life and fall to the deception of pleasures that drag you down. The only thing that has always brought me back on track was experiencing the traditional lifestyle, so deeply connected to the land, to survival, but more importantly to a thriving and rich culture full of appreciation, happiness and love. And the vision of inspiring youth here and out in the world, to find these our roots and the power they have, giving a perspective and the unique chance to actually take action. Not just learn or talk, but finally have a purpose and do something to set down the claim for land, culture and future.
I sometimes think ‚Man, this campaign would be a lot more impressive,striking, and successful if we had an actual superlative for it, such as “the last remaining wilderness on our Earth”. Everyone would act, suddenly.‘
Well, thank God we don’t! We should not need those superlatives! Let’s not allow the situation to proceed that far, too far.
And yet we are already close – it is one of the last. Not a lot of wilderness areas are left on this planet, and definitely none of this kind and size. The Northwest of Canada is still widely wild and untouched. It is in some ways our last frontier. We have the same awe, the same excitement, the same needs as the settlers back then. But we also have the same luck, the same gift, and the same decision of what to do with it.
Yet we have one decisive advantage: We know what happens when we squander the treasure, when we develop it and cultivate it. We might win the supposable safeties and comforts of civilization. Yet we lose acres and acres of wild, beautiful, challenging nature, thousands of species that will never come back to our Earth, and inspiring indigenous cultures, stories, knowledge and people. We lose our future.
The preservation of wilderness gives both purpose and name to our foundation. We are firmly committed to the ideal that children and youth are our most valuable resource and our best hope for the future of our planet!
Thus, we have designed this unique leadership project for Gwich’in and German youth; it involves cultural exchange, wilderness experience and direct action towards conservation of the Peel!
For these five months, I have gladly committed pretty much my entire life to this project. I left my home, family and friends in Germany to learn about the Gwich’in way of life here in the North, 6500 km away from what is familiar and comfortable to me, to understand them better, and to help make this beautiful vision of empowering youth a reality.
Even though this project was far out of my comfort zone, I feel nothing but eternal thankfulness that I get to have this unique experience. The only thing I would regret is if this project were not to succeed. There are many things we criticize our youth for today and lots of things we want them to do and to be. Here is the chance to make this ideal a reality, empower our youth! Support our project, every dollar counts. Thanks a lot!