Indigenous Community Volunteering
Experience Education is a company that manages the internship, co-op, volunteer, and ranchstay programs for colleges and universities across the US, Canada, and Europe. Each year we bring more than a thousand young people to Canada to intern and to volunteer.
We are a native-owned business and we put our culture at the forefront of what we do - even our logo is modeled on a traditional Coast Salish spindle whorl. As a native-owned business we ensure that no international intern or volunteer comes to Canada for one of our programs without learning the indigenous history of the community they will be working in - whether that community is a first nations reserve, or the city of Toronto.
As part of this commitment to our communities we are working to expand our wilderness volunteer program to include more placements on reserve, working on community-led projects. We are reaching out to native communities across BC in support of this, to get their help, and to see if we can work together to provide them with young, skilled, enthusiastic volunteers to help out on community projects.
The Wilderness Volunteer Program
The Wilderness Volunteer Program sees international volunteers working for 4-16 weeks in rural, remote, and wilderness communities. These volunteers are unpaid, though we do ask that the host community provide accommodation for their stay.
During their stay volunteers engage in a variety of tasks, including (but not limited to):
- Restoration of nature trails
- Environmental clean-up and remediation
- Building fences, and out buildings
- Tending to orphaned and injured wildlife
Specific tasks are dictated by the community, and are designed to suit their needs.
Volunteers work full-time from 25-40 hours per week, and integrate themselves into their communities, and in their spare time, try to partake in the culture and local outdoor activities.
Who are the Volunteers?
The Wilderness Volunteer Program draws primarily from Western Europe, with the majority of volunteers coming from three countries: Belgium, France, and Germany. Smaller numbers also come from the UK, US, and Spain.
Most volunteers are taking a summer off and traveling before they start university. They are a young group, average 20 years old, and trend towards more female than male volunteers.
How does your community benefit?
First Nations communities benefit from hosting volunteers by gaining a supportive and enthusiastic non-Canadian perspective, by gaining access to foreign language skills, and by benefiting from the 25-40 hours per week of volunteer support. If your community has a project that is ongoing, (for example) to redevelop a camp, to repair a wilderness area, to improve housing for seniors, to support an archeological dig, these volunteers can provide extra support to make that project possible.
How can your First Nation participate?
We have contacted your First Nation because we would like to ask you to host a volunteer. Volunteers can be hosted by the band itself, by an entity owned by the band, or by a charitable organization the band is familiar with.
The three basic requirements are:
- band-supplied accommodation (which could include 'homestay' with a family on reserve)
- ability to provide 25-40 of work for the unpaid volunteer to do
- supervision of the volunteer throughout their work
If your First Nation meets these requirements and would like to discuss working with Experience Education to host a volunteer, please fill out the form below. Once we receive your reply, we will contact you to discuss potential projects and volunteers.