Our Environmental Commitment
At Boreal River we care deeply about protecting the natural world and preserving wilderness.
We also think a lot about our impact on the environment. We know that our trips have an effect on the places we visit. However, we believe that overall, Boreal River programs can have a positive effect on nature conservation, and that if we take steps to minimize negative environmental impacts, our work can have a net positive influence on the environment.
Boreal River’s 6 environmental principles
1. Help more people love nature
For a person to eventually become an effective environmental activist, they need skills and knowledge in a range of disciplines. Most of that education probably doesn’t happen on a river trip or whitewater skills course. However research shows that no amount of education matters if the person doesn’t have affection for nature.
This creates an important role for the outdoor industry. Many people don’t develop affection for nature on their own living in urban centres. Even many wilderness adventure activities fail at helping participants come out of the experience with overall positive feelings toward the natural world. But if we focus on this goal, our programs can help people develop a lifelong love of nature.
Fostering a love of nature
On Boreal River Adventures trips, we can foster peoples’ love of nature the following ways:
- Teach people that being in nature isn’t testing oneself against nature. It’s about learning to live harmoniously with nature. We help participants gain outdoor skills so they can be comfortable, healthy, and happy in the wilderness.
- Design programs to include individual connection with nature. Group activities such as hanging out around the fire or paddling a raft through whitewater are great and bring the group closer to each other (another goal of ours). However, we also make sure to also include activities that bring people closer to nature.
- For some that could mean paddling quietly down the river in their own boat, for others it can come from fishing or foraging, and others just sitting on shore or in the forest observing the world around them.
- Frame the trip as “living outdoors” and “thriving in nature” and avoiding narratives about “people vs. nature” or “conquering the river”.
- Have fun! We can combine awesome activities, learning skills or knowledge, and the right mix of challenge and relaxation (different for every group), good food, awesome camaraderie. The list goes on and on. If people enjoy themselves, they’ll want to do more wilderness trips—and continue to get closer to nature.
Students learning to lead
On Boreal River Rescue courses, students build abilities to lead successful wilderness trips. They gain:
- skills for wilderness travel
- tools to deal with unforeseen incidents smoothly
- knowledge and experience that help them make good decisions, minimize risk, and avoid ‘unforeseen’ incidents
- confidence to lead others and put together awesome trips in the wilderness—but at the same time respect for the forces of nature
If our courses help people lead successful wilderness trips, we can help the outdoor education and adventure travel industries thrive. Then more people can get into the wilderness, have great experiences, and develop love of nature.
2. Promote Boreal Forest protection and river conservation
We support environmental organizations such as the Canadian Wildlife and Parks Society (CPAWS) known as SNAP in Quebec as well as the local group on the Cote Nord called Association Eau Vives de la Minganie (AEVM).
We actively work to protect the Magpie River from hydro development and we support efforts to protect Boreal Forest. Since SNAP took up the cause, we’ve been happy to contribute photos and videos taken on our trips to support their campaign.
In the summer of 2015, we were thrilled to contribute our time, logistical experience, river guides, and equipment to run a VIP trip on the Magpie. We worked with SNAP Quebec who organized the trip for political leaders and important stakeholders from the Indigenous communities, provincial and federal government, and the local tourism board. The trip was a big success and we were honoured to introduce everybody to the spectacular Magpie.
In the fall of 2017, we contributed resources to help SNAP Quebec organize a flash mob in Montreal in front of the Hydro-Quebec headquarters. We’ll be working with SNAP at an upcoming event in the summer of 2018 in Quebec City to lobby the government to give the Magpie protected status.
We encourage you to sign the petition which is almost at its goal of 10,000 signatures, and then take a moment to share it with your friends.
3. Bring local people on the Magpie
The Magpie will only be protected if locals care. We know some locals in the region care, but it’s imperative the communities around Sept-Iles know how special the river is. To that end, we work with the Association Eau Vives Minganie. We help support their annual ‘Corvee’ trip with guides and equipment, such as rafts and dry bags.
Extensive work is done with the local Innu groups. We believe the Innu have the strongest claim on the Magpie. One of the biggest thrills for us is taking groups of Innu on the Magpie who would otherwise not have had the chance.
4. Contribute to the local economy
We believe in involving local businesses and groups as much as possible and work with many in the Cote Nord communities to supply and provide services for our Magpie trips. Not just hotels, restaurants, and transport services, but also other outfitters and the Innu community.
5. Practice minimal impact camping
Minimal impact camping techniques (sometimes called “Leave No Trace”) differ across the world depending on the type of environment and the amount of people travelling through. Our guide team works with the local conservation group to establish norms for the Magpie.
6. We purchase carbon offsets for each guest
We purchase carbon offsets for the emissions and carbon equivalents of every trip we take through our partnership with Carbone Boréal. They are a greenhouse gas emissions offset program and research group based in the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi.
Their offsets are based on planting trees in areas protected from harvesting in Northern Quebec, where we work and play. Carbone Boréal’s projects are verified and comply with international standards (ISO 14064-3).
We purchase 0.6 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per guest on each trip. In 2018 this comes to $16.80 CAD per person (4 trees per person) and accounts for everything — food, travel, helicopter, hotel, getting our gear and staff to Sept-Îles and more — once you’ve arrived in Sept-Îles. For your own travel to and from Sept-Îles, we encourage you to consider purchasing your own offsets from your airline or Carbone Boréal.