Thoughts from the train tracks and SYC looking forward

By Ellen Dashwood, Sierra Youth Coalition Executive Committee Member

This work by Ellen Dashwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

ExComm member Ellen travelling on Via Rail

This year I had the opportunity to take a solo journey from Vancouver to Ottawa by train. This is a trip I probably would not have done at 25 years if I were not a member of the Sierra Youth Coalition and its Executive Committee (ExComm), and of course if it were not for the organization’s partnership with VIA Rail Canada.

At the end of June, the ExComm and Staff of the Sierra Youth Coalition gathered in Ottawa for a weekend-long training and retreat to mark the start of a new “ExComm” term. This will be my second year as an ExComm Member but my first time attending the training retreat, which happens every year. Since a few days of travel is required to get from the West to the East, I unfortunately could not afford the time last September when I was knee-deep in grad school commitments.

This year, thanks again to our unique partnership – and to having a bit more time on my hands since finishing (most of) my master’s requirements – I was able to embark on this unforgettable travel experience and attend an energizing retreat with fellow ExComm and staff. The weekend allowed us to engage in team-building and strategic short- and long-term action-oriented planning that I have no doubt helped to prepare SYC for the beginning of a successful year ahead. I also don’t think we could have asked for a more dedicated and talented staff and ExComm, so I feel very fortunate to be a part of this team.

Because we were so busy all weekend with back-to-back learning and planning, I failed to take any pictures in Ottawa, but I did of course take a number of shots along the way from Vancouver to Ottawa. I’ve posted some of my favorites below. Hopefully these pictures capture reasons why train travel is so exciting and enjoyable.

It might take much more time than flying, but it offers so much more that you really miss while travelling at 30,000 feet. Not to mention the carbon emissions saved by taking the train! Some quick research found that approximately 3500 km is travelled from Vancouver to Ottawa. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization Carbon Emission Calculator, this distance travelled by plane generates about 275 kg of CO2, while the same distance travelled by rail generates less than half (about 110 kg of CO2, according to the Carbon Footprint’s public transit carbon footprint calculator).

If you’re interested in taking the train – I truly recommend it. I also strongly recommend becoming a member of the Sierra Youth Coalition to receive up to 40% off Via Rail travel anywhere in Canada. By becoming a member, in addition to the Via rail discount, you gain other member benefits such as networking opportunities with a growing community of students and young professionals in the field, and regular newsletters with info on upcoming conferences, workshops, and relevant jobs.