Thompson Rivers University

Award goes where the river flows

March 9, 2023

TRU alumni Maison and Riley Cavaliere congratulate Adventure Guide student Ariane Garneau-Desroches (centre), the first recipient of their new award, the Pink Mountain Imports' River Wanderer Award.

Student award criteria often involves good grades, community involvement or volunteerism, but a unique new financial award for students in TRU’s Adventure Guide Program goes well beyond the ordinary — it was created to recognize “those who feel the river in their souls and want everyone to be there with them.”

As the first recipient of Pink Mountain Imports’ River Wanderer Award, Ariane Garneau-Desroches couldn’t be a more ideal candidate.

“I think that if there is one thing on earth that I like the most, it’s rivers. The sounds, the scenery and the movements of water fascinate me and submerge my soul with joy and happiness,” she says. “I grew up in Quebec, where rivers are everywhere. That environment drove my curiosity for water sports and led me to start whitewater canoe trips at 15 years old.”

river kayaker from behind

Ariane Garneau-Desroches works her way through whitewater.
Carson Wright photo

As Garneau-Desroches’s passion for adventure sports grew, she realized she needed additional training and skill development in a controlled environment — all of which she found when she discovered TRU Adventure Studies. She says another powerful factor in choosing TRU was location, referring to British Columbia as “one of the best playgrounds on our planet for outdoor activities.”

When Garneau-Desroches received her award, she was delighted to meet donors Maison and Riley Cavaliere in person and even more thrilled when she learned they are TRU alumni and fellow paddlers.

“Being able to meet them and talk with them about their past experiences — from TRU students to where they are now — was very interesting and inspiring for me,” she says. “They were interested to get to know me and they even offered to go paddling as soon as the season starts in Clearwater!”

TRU alumni give back

The Cavalieres both completed the Adventure Guide diploma program — Maison in 2014 and Riley in 2019. When Riley was in her second year and Maison was stuck at home recovering from an injury, the couple came up with a plan to make high-quality, reputable brand whitewater gear more accessible. As part of her coursework, Riley created a business and marketing plan for their distribution company, Pink Mountain Imports. With a warehouse in Kamloops and a travelling supply on the road, Pink Mountain Imports is now five years old and the partners, who were both award recipients while at TRU, are ready to give back.

“I think the reason we started this business was because we love the outdoors and we love the community that the outdoors brings together. We wanted to be able to give back to that community while making it more accessible for people,” says Maison. “We wanted the award and the recipient of the award to represent what we like most about being in the adventure industry — the fact that people are super welcoming and happy and love being outside.”

Being outdoors is where Garneau-Desroches feels most at peace, even if the activities she chooses are churning with intensity. She loves to help others find joy, appreciation and confidence and sees guiding as a way to share her passion for moving water.

“Using the outdoor industry to help people improve their mental health and to highlight the importance of protecting nature is my long-term objective,” says Garneau-Desroches.

“Being able to do adventure sports requires a lot of money, mostly used for gear purchase. I want to thank Riley and Maison for allowing me to pursue what makes me the happiest.”

With spring fast approaching and Garneau-Desroches and the Cavalieres anxious to get back on the water, chances are high they will soon meet doing what they love most: river wandering.

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