Justin Trudeau discusses his river rafting trip with Senator Nick Sibbeston at the drum circle in Fort Simpson. A camera woman and boom microphone hovered nearby as most of the excursion was taped for a future episode of David Suzuki's Nature of Things. - Derek Neary/NNSL photo
After Pierre Elliot Trudeau's canoe trip down the South Nahanni River in 1970, he was instrumental in the creation of Nahanni National Park Reserve.
From July 21-27, Justin Trudeau was one of 14 people on a rafting and canoeing trip from the base of Virginia Falls to the park boundaries at "the splits."
He said he had long desired to travel the river and see what his father often described as the world's most beautiful scenery.
Justin wasn't disappointed.
"It's one of the most magical places I've ever seen," he said. "The power of the place touched (my father)... it touched me as well."
As he marvelled at the glistening water, the chiselled canyons and caught glimpses of the wildlife, he said he sensed that his admiration of nature would have been shared by his father.
"I knew as I went 'Wow, look at that,' he would have said, 'Wow, look at that.'"
Christened Boreal Rendezvous 2003, the river rafting trip was arranged by environmental groups to promote conservation.
Harvey Locke, national vice-president of conservation for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, told the crowd gathered at the Papal site on Monday night that the Deh Cho First Nations' resolution to protect the Nahanni watershed is "spectacular."
Herb Norwegian, Deh Cho grand chief, expressed confidence that the Nahanni park expansion will happen. "It's only a matter of time," said Norwegian. Initiatives like the rafting trip reinforce the need to preserve the area, he suggested.
"Anytime you get a group of people together with very strong thoughts behind it, and the will, it naturally paves the way," said Norwegian.
Keyna Norwegian, chief of the Liidlii Kue First Nation, added that people come from all over the world to see Nahanni park and paddle the rivers.
People in the Deh Cho are fortunate to have such a treasure in their own backyard, she said.
Justin Trudeau agreed whole-heartedly.
"Yours is a wealth that needs preserving, it needs sharing," he said.