Group sitting on a rock in Boundary waters

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice

Our Commitment

In 2018, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness formed a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion workgroup of staff and board members to deliberate and act on our own organizational shortcomings as well as those of the outdoor industry and environmental movement as a whole. We recognized that we had much work to do - and indeed we still do.


A Wilderness for All

Wilderness and the pursuit of its protection should be made to be welcoming and accessible to all. Protecting Wilderness relies upon public engagement which cannot be expected when people are disenfranchised, unwelcome, hurt or tokenized due to their sexuality, race, age, ability, size, gender identity, gender expression, culture, religion, political affiliation, or anything else. The pursuit of permanent protection for the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining and other threats is no different. Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness and the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of the organization as it works to protect this special place for everyone and for generations to come.

Each department and staff person has Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice plans built into their work, and our board DEIJ Committee and staff DEIJ Workgroup help direct and evaluate our progress around our workplace culture, operations, and organizational processes, recruitment and hiring, whose stories get told/shown, where we hold accessible events, who we partner and do business with, and how we support and collaborate with partner organizations including those that guide a wide diversity of people into the Boundary Waters.

To build an effective, grassroots movement to permanently protect the Boundary Waters, we must challenge ourselves and our community to be actively anti-racist, and help make sure sure that everyone can not only visit the Boundary Waters Wilderness but is part of the movement to protect it.

In 2021 we launched a small grants program to partner with and support individuals and groups who are often excluded from or face barriers to outdoor recreation and advocacy. Grant amounts range between $1000-$3000.

2023 GRANT CYCLE Round 2

Our DEIJ grants program will continue in 2023! We are again awarding small trip or project grants to folks who are often both disenfranchised and excluded from the effort to protect the Boundary Waters.

Grant deadlines: December 1, 2022 for January 2023 grant award (recipients will be notified prior to Boundary Waters permit opening), and May 1 for June award.

Click to open the 2023 Grant Application

We intend for the application to be short and simple and to not burden anyone with onerous tasks for these grants. We hope you will consider applying and share with your community as well!


Urban Bird Collective - Twin Cities, MN BIPOC-led birding and environmental stewardship group
Ely Community Resource - Focus on serving LGBTQ+ youth, creating a wilderness experience of positive challenge
Bear Witness Media - In partnership with Cook County Pride Committee, LGBTQ Youth Support Group, and First Congregational Church to offer BWCA day trips, education, and mentoring
Urban Boatbuilders - Apprenticeship program for underserved youth facing barriers to employment 
MN Transitions Charter School - Winter Camping experience at YMCA Camp Menogyn, primarily students of color living in Minneapolis. Hear more about their trip here!
Ely Folk School - 2nd year of their Anishinaabe Storytelling series
Troop 100 - Scout troop for Hmong boys started by Minneapolis Public School educators


Big City Mountaineers - Tower, MN basecamp and summer Boundary Waters youth trips
Boyz N The Woods - Winter retreat for Black men, with a focus on mental health and leadership
Cast Outdoors Adventures - Boundary Waters adventures with kids from adaptive hockey teams across MN
Wilderness Canoe Base - Boundary Waters trip with St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin
Kokoro Project - Canoe trip by and for people of AAPI identities 
Loppet Foundation - new Boundary Waters Adventures program, first trip with BIPOC youth leaders
YMCA Camp Northern Lights - S.T.E.P.S. family camp weeks for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ families
Love is King - winter Boundary Waters trip and film for Operation ROAM adult BIPOC leaders


Circle Of Discipline - Boundary Waters camping trip with inner-city youth and young adults
Ely Folk School - Traditional Anishinaabe (storytelling nights series led by a tribal elder from Bois Forte Band of Chippewa (Ojibwe)
Kyle Rucker/Ruck B Media - Film for elementary students featuring young Black adventurer 
Vermilion Community College - LGBTQ+ student group winter Boundary Waters activities
Victoria Carpenter - Short film by founder of Flip the Script queer film fest, featuring two-spirit Lakota poet Brave Crow
Voyageur Outward Bound School - Scholarship for Black leader's dogsledding expedition
Wilderness Canoe Base - Trip with LGBTQ+ Augsburg College students
YMCA Camp Menogyn - DEIJ consultant and summer camp evaluation and training

We are members of Camber Outdoors - a workplace equity organization for the outdoor industry

In 2020 we signed the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge

Read our annual DEIJ Reports:

Read our 2021 Report

Read our 2020 report  


Check out the Outdoorist Oath training opportunities

Blog: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Is Central to our Mission

The Boundary Waters is Anishinaabe land

Outside Safe Space Sticker. Pine tree with rainbow colors

Outside Safe Space Sticker 

The Outside Safe Space tree represents welcome to LGBTQ+ people. Whether you’re an ally or identify as LGBTQ+, wearing or displaying this symbol nonverbally communicates your support for folks being their authentic selves in rural and outdoor places--those outside traditionally welcoming spaces. This is the brain child of road trip and national parks expert Mikah Meyer, who uses outdoor adventure advocacy to bring awareness to the OSS project. 

The OSS symbol was thoughtfully designed to incorporate the history and diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. Use #AdventurePride on your favorite social media channels to share your support of inclusive environments for all!

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