Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by John Tonin

ABOUT TO SET OFF – Mitch Bowmile left Whitehorse yesterday evening from the CPAW booth at the Fireweed Market. He is travelling 1,400 kilometres to Tuktoyaktuk to raise awareness for the Porcupine caribou herd.

Mitch Bowmile begins 1,400km journey

Mitch Bowmile, a Toronto-born adventurer, began his unsupported journey from Whitehorse to Tuktoyaktuk on Thursday leaving from the Fireweed Market at Shipyards Park.

By John Tonin on August 2, 2019

Mitch Bowmile, a Toronto-born adventurer, began his unsupported journey from Whitehorse to Tuktoyaktuk on Thursday leaving from the Fireweed Market at Shipyards Park.

Bowmile will be using the 1,400-kilometre journey to support CPAWS Yukon’s work to protect the Porcupine caribou herd’s calving grounds. As well he will be supporting Green Iglu, a non-profit Toronto based organization that works on setting up greenhouses in northern communities.

It is Bowmile’s first time in the territory.

“I wanted to do some sort of an expedition this summer and something I haven’t done before,” said Bowmile. “I came across the Dempster Highway and how remote it was so I thought it would be a pretty cool ride to make it all the way up there.

“I’m excited, I’ve got my first couple of days planned out then after that day-to-day.”

In Toronto, Bowmile works as a swim coach but by no means considers himself a cyclist. With that said he is feeling prepared.

“By no means am I a cyclist because that would mean years of dedication to the sport,” said Bowmile. “I’ve always had fitness as a priority so I’m feeling fit and very prepared so we will see how it goes.”

It started as an expedition and he had already planned the ride before he reached out to CPAWS Yukon.

“I thought it would be a great idea to use the ride as a way to connect with organizations that are doing really great things,” said Bowmile. “CPAWS Yukon chapter is doing awesome work out here which I wanted to support and Green Iglu that also supports some issues in Canada’s north.

“By no means am I an expert in that. I just wanted to connect with these organizations and they filled me in and gave me more info and I’m super happy that I can offer some support and hopefully raise some awareness.”

The two organizations fall in line with his beliefs and he thinks it’s cool that he can connect people back in Toronto to the issues in the north.

“It’s been kind of cool because I’ve gotten to share that with my friends and people in Ontario,” said Bowmile. “I don’t think its something on a lot of people’s radar so I’ve gotten a lot of questions so I’ve gotten to raise some awareness for these issues which has been the goal since day one after partnering with these organizations.”

He hasn’t planned on stopping in any communities along the way but he is hoping the opportunity arises.

“It’s not out of the question but I don’t know what to expect,” said Bowmile. “I don’t want to impose myself on any communities but I’d love to see the cultures. I also think it depends on how my ride is going. I have a very loose plan with that.”

For both organizations, the discussed goal, along with creating awareness, is to raise $10,000 each for both CPAWs Yukon and Green Iglu.

“To be able to do that is fantastic,” said Bowmile. “I’d be super happy to hear that more people are getting involved and get excited to do things like this.

(Personally) I’m a coach back home and I hope I can be an inspiration to some of my athletes. If they want to do something, get up and do it, put the effort in and give it your all.”

His personal goal is to have something neat to share with friends and family back home.

“My girlfriend Sam is super excited for me,” said Bowmile. “I’m just excited to try something new. It’s cool to plan something but in other experiences, things don’t always go according to plan. It’s interesting to see how I’m going to manage myself in those situations.

“There is definitely personal growth to be had. The first part will be more populated so hoping to meet some cool people along the way and raise more awareness and just see the Yukon.”

CPAWS is a national-wide environmental non-government organization that advocates for protecting wild places. That includes watersheds and protecting species inside them like the Porcupine caribou herd.

“They (the herd) are at risk because their breeding grounds are being threatened to be drilled for oil and gas,” said Braden Lamoureux, the CPAWS representative at the market booth. “The U.S. administration is threatening to sell oil and gas leases by the end of this year.

“We are working to get Canadian concerns on the record in the U.S. and get them aware that Canadians care about this issue and it’s going to affect us.”

The hope is that the ride from Bowmile will help further the awareness on the current issue.

“I think Mitch has a cool perspective because he is not from the north,” said Lamoureux. “He gets to experience the north for the first time which is a good storytelling and awareness opportunity.

“He gets to share a part of Canada that not a lot of people have been. He is going to a very vast and beautiful, intact, wilderness area along the highway. I think that is a real testament to the work we do in the Yukon. It is really our duty to protect it. Just because we have it doesn’t mean we can slack off.”

The Porcupine herd’s breeding ground is in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where the current U.S. administration is considering allowing drilling. The herd is also the primary sustenance to the Gwich’in First Nation.

Comments (1)

Up 1 Down 0

Denise LaFountaine on Aug 6, 2019 at 9:57 am

Hello, does Mitch have email or WhatsApp where I can get ahold of him? I’m also heading north on the Dempster on my bike and was thinking maybe I could join him for a couple of days. Maybe you could also send him my info?

Thank you,
Denise LaFountaine
WhatsApp 206-402-2599

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.