UCBON connecting public with Cape Breton outdoors
The Unama’ki Cape Breton Outdoor Network (UCBON) wants to connect the general public with all the outdoor activities Cape Breton has to offer.
The 60-member community of outdoor professionals includes university professors, tour operators, public health professionals, municipal and provincial government employees, Mi'kmaq Physical Activity Leadership (MPAL) Coordinators and Parks Canada employees. The network launched a year ago when a small group of outdoor professionals realized there were opportunities to create a strong regional network and improve their capacity to get people outdoors.
“We saw lots of great stuff happening in little pots all over the place and not a good sense of what's going on in the bigger picture island-wide,” said UCBON steering committee member and CBU Profession Pat Maher.
“For example, I might be running a wilderness first aid course in Cheticamp and someone else is running one in Mabou. We don't know that each other is doing it. If we had worked together, we could have had twice as many participants,” explained Maher.
Maher also said the partnering of organizations can lead to more effective resource sharing, reduce redundant purchases (eg. one organization buying kayaks and sharing) and save groups money.
The UCBON steering committee meets 3-4 times a year, and the wider network meets every six months to strengthen its capacity. Members held a half-day “collaboratory” at CBU in June 2017, and a professional retreat-style gathering at Camp Bretondean in Mira on Feb. 24. The Mira event was sponsored by NS Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage and the CBU School of Arts and Social Sciences.
UCBON also engages with provincial and national networks.
“We’re encouraging people involved with the Cape Breton outdoor scene to go to the Nova Scotia Outdoor Network Spring Summit in April in Aylesford. There is also the Nova Scotia Hiking Summit happening in Ingonish in May. Some of the same conversations or same discussions may happen there.”
Anyone who works in the outdoors, or leads people in the outdoors, wishing to join the professional network should email Pat Maher, Pat_maher@ cbu.ca. The Unama’ki Cape Breton Outdoor Network can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter.
Members of the Unama’ki Cape Breton Outdoor Network (UCBON) who took part in the gathering at Camp Bretondean in Mira on Feb. 24 include (left to right): Erin Phillips, Vince Forrestall, Rosie Sylliboy, John Hudec, Pat Maher, Wayne Mckay, Emily Root,...