Canada is huge. Spanning from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean just north of the United States, the environmentally rich nation is a favorite place for outdoor activity. Yet, for its massive size, it has a relatively small population at 36.5 million — roughly 10 percent that of the United States. Still, you can find lots of ways to give back to Canada during a volunteer experience. Whether you visit the Great White North during its famously cold season or volunteer abroad in Canada during the delightful summer months, there are several volunteer programs to choose from. Here are some things to know before you sign up to volunteer in Canada — and a couple of organizations ready to pair you with the right opportunity.
Know Before You Go
Canada may share a 1,500-mile border with the United States and be driving distance from many northern states — but it offers a unique cultural experience and requires an understanding of different laws and rules. While American money may be accepted at certain border towns and cities, you should plan on converting currency during a longer volunteer experience.
You will also need a passport to visit — a driver’s license used to suffice, but updated laws require you to carry a valid passport. Canada is also quite conservative about who they let cross the border when it comes to criminal behavior. If you have a few minor offenses on your record, don’t despair, but do make sure you will be allowed to cross the border before signing up for a Canada volunteer program!
Canada is a developed and flourishing country, but its small population leaves tons of openings for people to visit from abroad and lend their time and energy. Rural communities are often short-handed when it comes to animal rescue and care and ranch maintenance. Conservationists can also use eager minds to help them collect vital data about native animals that are important to regional ecosystems. No matter your background, you can find a way to lend a helping hand to friendly Canadians in their efforts to improve and conserve their animal (and human!) communities.
Fronteering offers volunteer programs in Canada that are designed for people who are hungry to learn more about nature and actively contribute to conservation efforts. Your choices for volunteer programs are as impressive and enriching when you apply to work with Fronteering. Here is just a sampling of what you can expect:
Island Wildlife Care
Vancouver Island is just a hop and a skip from the city of Victoria, yet it boasts the highest concentration of mountain lions in the world! During your time in the program, you will live with a Canadian family and help rehabilitate a myriad of creatures native to Canada. You will also enjoy the chance to witness humpback whales, seals and bald eagles in the wild.
Walking with Wolves
This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will bring you to the Rocky Mountains. During the week, you will educate the public about wild wolves in the region and the importance of conservation. In your spare time, the natural playground of the mountains is at your disposal. You may also have the opportunity to actually walk with wolves on a conservation mission to track and monitor a local pack.
If you want to learn more about rescuing and caring for horses, this Alberta program is the perfect environment to get your education. Most of the nearly 200 horses here at any given time were rescued from a slaughterhouse. You will gain hands-on experience working with horses on a 40-acre ranch, and you may also have the chance to work with other creatures, including llamas and ducks.
The Frontier organization has five unique programs for those who want to volunteer in Canada. Ranging in duration from four to 12 weeks, these volunteer opportunities put you in touch with nature and teach you about protecting native animals and their natural habitats. The opportunities include a Canadian Arctic Husky Ranch Adventure and Canadian Husky Ranch Experience, where you will live off the grid and care for Siberian huskies on a ranch, as well as the Indigenous Community Experience, during which you’ll help rebuild Secwepemc communities in British Columbia. You can also sign up to work with a variety of charities doing conservation work across the country or take a kayak tour with orcas to observe the majestic creatures in the wild and learn about preserving the ocean for their benefit.
Ready to Travel?
You have probably heard a lot of Banff National Park and the other natural spoils of Canada, and you can and should explore these mesmerizing features of the country while you’re visiting. But why not give back to the land and the people who will welcome you so warmly? Reach out to Fronteering or Frontier to learn more about their volunteer projects in Canada and select the program that best fits your skillset and needs. From there, it’s all adventure and hands-on learning!
Lara V. · Guest Writer
Lara V. is a guest writer for Volunteer Forever.