By Emilie Quesnel
BELLEVILLE – Lindsay Little of Stirling is one of two new youth ambassadors for Parks Canada and has just embarked on an 11-month journey of promoting and exploring what Parks Canada has to offer.
“It’s the best summer job ever!” said Little, 24.
The program, introduced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2011, selects two 18- to 25-year-old Canadians to explore Parks Canada and share their experiences via social media. The 10-year program is meant to act as a commemoration of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first visit to Canada, in 2011.
The primary mission of the ambassadors is to inspire young people to discover Parks Canada and its range of activities and events. The goal is to encourage Canada’s youth to explore their country.
Little and this year’s other winner, George Woodhouse, 24, from Owen Sound, have already begun their Canadian journey, having kicked things off in Calgary.
“There’s so much beauty right at our back doors,” Little said. “There are just so many cool things to do!”
Little grew up in Stirling, and attended Bayside Secondary School in Belleville. She is now attending McGill University in Montreal, where she studies law, and has an undergraduate degree in social sciences from the University of Ottawa.
“My family still lives in Stirling and I still follow the news from there,” Little said.
It was while she was attending the University of Ottawa last year that Little heard about this ambassador program. One of the 2013 winners, Colin Sutherland, was in her statistics class. Little said she noticed how Sutherland had a prominent social-media presence, and she learned more about the program through what he posted.
She experienced her first cross-country road trip with her family when she was just four years old. Since then, Little has travelled all over the world, visiting places like Europe and Africa. Those travels made it clear to her how wonderful her home country is, she said.
“There’s clearly beauty, clearly things to be seen and talked about,” said Little.
Now she says she’ll do everything she can to inspire Canadians to realize this.
Little said she didn’t have much hope that she would win the youth ambassador job, but she worked as hard as possible on her application nonetheless.
“I really value hard work,” she said.
And it paid off, with Little chosen to represent Parks Canada in 2014 from thousands of applicants. She said she feels incredibly lucky to have been presented with such an opportunity, and isn’t about to let it go to waste.
“I take this very seriously,” Little said. “I want to prove that I deserve to be here.”
Being from such a small town and suddenly having won such a significant national award, Little admits to feeling the heat.
“I feel a lot of pressure … I want to make sure I don’t let the people from Stirling down,” she said.
Little recognizes the importance of spending time outside. She says she knows how today’s generation spends most of their time indoors, and she understands that compulsion. However, she has a message for those who refuse to venture out of their homes: “There are so many benefits of being outside and challenging yourself … everyone should take the time to explore.”
Little and Woodhouse will be working full-time throughout the summer and then part-time after the school year begins. Little said she isn’t sure what the summer will bring or what kind of impact she will make, but that isn’t stopping her.
“Can we make a difference? I don’t know, but we’re definitely going to try.”