Paden Lennie is no stranger to the oceans.
Born and raised on the edge of the Mackenzie Delta, the Inuvialuk conservationist has been using the water as both his means of transportation and hunting grounds for most of his life.
So when he was made aware of the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) Congress, signing up for the Young Professionals Committee was a natural choice.
“There were no specific credentials to meet, but you must have a connection, some knowledge and overall passion towards water conservation – specifically marine protected areas,” said Lennie. “With a lifelong connection and reliance on water, I emphasized the importance water and marine protected areas has had on my family and the local peoples.
“Having the opportunity to take part in such a high prolific congress such as the International Marine Protected Areas group and being in the same room as such knowledgeable professionals within the ocean conservation world – drives me to absorb all the information and expertise that follows.”
Announced as part of the committee on Aug. 11, Lennie will be joining 15 other young professionals from across the planet, including five other representatives of the First Nations of Turtle Island and two from Canada. The remaining eight hail from Africa, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and both North and South America. Between all the cultures represented in the room are eight distinct languages.
With Lennie comes his experience in conducting Traditional Knowledge interviews with Inuvialuit whalers and fisherman on how climate change has affected their work, experience mapping ocean floor and sampling sediment, sampling water quality and working with the beluga whale research team in the area of Kugmallit Bay, working with hydrophones, collecting harvest information and collecting biological samples.
Held every four years, the IMPAC congress is a collaborative effort between the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the chosen host country. Previous IMPACs were held in La Serena-Coquimbo, Chile, Marseilles, France, Washington D.C. and Geelong, Australia. The committee will help shape the agenda for IMPAC5, which will be held June 23 to 30, 2022, in Vancouver, B.C., as well as push the voices of young leaders from marine protected areas onto the Congress floor.
“IMPAC5 is where we will come together to take a stand to protect the world ocean,” said IMPACT5 Secretariat executive director Sabine Jessen. “Now more than ever, it’s important to ensure young voices, ideas and opinions are woven throughout the narrative of international gatherings like IMPAC5.
“Young people are choosing nature-based solutions to address the climate crisis and protect blue nature. I’m excited to work with this dynamic group of young people as we prepare for IMPAC5 in June 2022.”
In addition, the young ocean stewards will learn from the deep pools of knowledge available to them at the congress in preparation for the international goal to protect 30 per cent of the world’s ocean by 2030.
Lennie said he was hoping to build on his knowledge of marine conservation and how to improve the co-existence between wildlife and people.
“My overall goal is to actively take part in discussion, events and break-out sessions by speaking out when and where it’s needed,” he said. “While participating, I will be sitting back and observing all the professionals young and old to gather as much knowledge and experiences as I possibly can. I want to bring back what I learned to the North and use it in both my everyday life and career.
“I can’t wait to sit within a crowded room listening to and picking the brains of the experts on ocean conservation.”