Outdoor recreation student works for a sustainable future in tourism |

In collaboration with Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative Society and the UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals, Cheshire aims to build partnerships to educate about sustainable business practices

Bridget Stringer-Holden (her/her) // Editor-in-Chief
Valeriya Kim (she/her) // Illustrator

Sophie Cheshire (her) embarked on an ambitious project for her freshman year at Capilano University (CapU).

The Outdoor Recreation Management student works alongside the Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative Society to bring sustainable tourism practices to Howe Sound. “I felt very attracted to working with [the society] in some sort of capacity,” Cheshire said. “When I spoke with Ruth [Simons]she introduced me to this project, which immediately sounded like something I wanted to do.

Cheshire met Simons, the coordinator and president of the Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative Society, at an EarthWorks event hosted by instructor Roy Jantzen last fall.

Jantzen has helped Cheshire develop a self-directed study course for the Spring 2022 semester, marking the start of a year-long project to build partnerships between the company and the outdoor recreation businesses that operate in Howe Sound.

Cheshire began its research in January by looking at UNESCO’s Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “I didn’t know the SDGs at all, so I had to do a bunch of research – what does it mean, what are we looking for, which ones do we want to focus on?”

She finally chose Goal 17, Partnerships for the Goals, as the main goal. Cheshire also looked at goals related to life on land, life below water, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequality, and sustainable cities and communities.

During its research, Cheshire noticed a lack of an appropriate framework or government-imposed requirements – elements needed to build sustainable tourism businesses. “There is a lot of work to be done in this aspect, but where I want to lead this specific project is to establish a framework that businesses could aspire to, particularly for the Howe Sound region.

Before Cheshire can interview companies in the area, it needs project approval from CapU’s Research Ethics Board – which the freshman described as an “interesting” process. “It’s a very formal and academic way of putting things […] you have to be very specific about what questions you ask them and how you ask them,” Cheshire said. “It was a challenge for me.”

She hopes the project will provide greater access to marginalized people within the community. “It’s really up to us to figure out where the opportunities are and provide resources to these companies on who they might partner with,” Cheshire said.

She spoke with federal Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault on March 11 about her ideas for the project, including a potential partnership between Inclusion BC – which supports and advocates for people with disabilities – and Power To Be, an organization local non-profit offering outdoor recreation. for people living with a disability.

Cheshire hopes to begin the second stage of its project as part of its co-op this summer. As she would be the organization’s first employee, the process involved a lot of paperwork for them to become an employer. However, Cheshire has a job description and is simply waiting to sign the deal once funding is secured through a third party.

During its co-op, Cheshire aims to build community through the company’s website. “The goal is to have [businesses with identified best practices] present workshops to other companies, create partnerships,” she said, citing sustainable mountain bike companies as an example.

The idea for the workshop came from another CapU class who are currently working with the company. Once this class completes their project in April, it will be handed over to Cheshire who can work on implementing the ideas.

The International Coordinating Council approved the nomination of Howe Sound to become the 19th UNESCO Biosphere Region in Canada on September 15, 2021. This new biosphere stretches from West Vancouver to the Sea to Sky Corridor – almost to ‘to Whistler – and includes parts of Bowen Island, then the Sunshine Coast.

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