Nina Andrascik

, Nature Canada's Women for Nature Initiative

Nina is a senior at Nepean High School in Ottawa, Ontario. She is very passionate about the outdoors and has grown up experiencing Canada through numerous outdoor experiences.  However, Nina’s true appreciation and awakening to nature came when she enrolled in the outdoor education class offered through Nepean H.S. Nina was submerged into a whole new world - from waking up at the crack of dawn to watching the sunrise and the mist rising off the water, to hiking through the woods, to going to sleep looking up at a blanket of stars. Through these experiences, Nina made friendships that will last her a lifetime. Outdoor education brought a whole new dimension to her understanding of her Canadian identity.

Today, one in six Canadians come from outside of Canada. Our education system can be a great way to help build lifelong friendships and connections with Canada’s natural heritage and yet when Nina asked a classmate involved in the Nepean Islamic Student Association why she and her friends don't enroll in outdoor education, she explained there are cultural barriers to their involvement. Co-ed overnight camping trips kept many from enrolling. Not only this, but there are many cultural barriers for new Canadians, such as being unaware of the opportunities and the basics of enjoying the outdoors and connecting with nature, and the apprehension of the unfamiliar. Nina learned of this late in her Grade 11 school year and asked the head of the Outdoor Education Department at Nepean if she could start an all-girls Outdoor Education club in September 2017. With the permission granted, Nina applied for and secured a grant from Nature Canada’s Women for Nature initiative to help her cover the costs of an all-girls outdoor education club.

The club is called WEGO (Women for the Environment and the Great Outdoors) and has been off to a great start with the numbers of participants slowly but surely growing. It is an all girls club for first and second generation Canadians to help connect with each other and build new relationships with peers while connecting with nature on a wide variety of outdoor excursions. Nina is developing and organizing the programming and outdoor events for the club including, hiking, rock climbing and taking advantage of Canada’s 150 events such as MosaiCanada throughout Ottawa.