CPAWS: The Canadian PEOPLE and Wilderness Society

by Anne Janssen

Photo: Anne Janssen, John Ralston Saul, Elder William Commanda. Final Ceremony of the Boreal Rendezvous. Ottawa River, September 2003 / Roberta Walker.

My story of CPAWS revolves around the people; the grassroots which attracted me in the first place. I am reminded less of the wilderness and more of those within whom that wilderness lives. The people, some who are staff, most not, some who are volunteers or members, most not. The ordinary Canadians across the country who have an unspoken, inherent connection to the wilderness, who feel parks are a given, who love and understand the beauty of this part of the planet. CPAWS to me represents these people. I came across so many of them in my few years at CPAWS; all my work revolved around them. I spent a few hours over the last few days trying to figure out how to name and pay my respects to them but realized I couldn’t. Instead, I’d like to just give a nod to the few dozen that were particularly bright lights and who got excited when a grand idea was presented, who saw potential, who added their creativity, smarts and enthusiasm and who were not, are not, daunted by ambitious ideas. I’d also like to remember dear Elder William Commanda who became a patron and Honorary Elder of our boreal program and lent his name and wisdom to our work. So many genuine people have given CPAWS their blessing over the 50 years: congratulations CPAWS. May you continue to receive these blessings and may you always work hard and succeed at keeping Our True North (south, east and west), WILD and Free.