Xyra, a Brownie from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, was excited and surprised when she learned she was a 2020 Change Maker Award recipient. She had no idea some of her Guiding friends had nominated her for the award – though it’s no wonder they did! As a volunteer wildlife rescue team member, 9-year-old Xyra has made a huge impact on the lives of animals in Saskatchewan.
Xyra has always had a passion for animals and the outdoors. As a Brownie, she loved all the experiences she had in nature, like making her own compost bin with red wiggler worms, spotting a snake on a hike, and camping. Her ultimate dream? One day, she hopes to open up her own wildlife sanctuary.
Wanting to take her passion for animals to the next level, Xyra reached out to her provincial wildlife rehabilitation society with help from her mom (who’s also a Guider!). They were happy to welcome Xyra as a volunteer alongside her mom. Wildlife rescue is amazing, but it can also be difficult, sad, and even dangerous – so having a trusted, responsible adult with you is important.
Her favourite experience to date has been helping a baby racoon. One night, Xyra and her mom received a call to pick up a baby raccoon from someone who had illegally trapped it a few months prior and then tried to keep her as a pet, but later decided to hand the raccoon over to a rehabilitator so she could learn to be wild.
While waiting for a ride to the rehab facility, Xyra and her mom cared for the racoon in their house for two nights. Because she’d been kept as a pet, the raccoon wasn’t used to being in a kennel and kept trying to escape. The rehabilitator advised them that to better help this particular raccoon, she could be let out to socialize since she was used to living with people. This was a unique situation – raccoons should never be handled except with expert guidance from a veterinarian or a licensed rehabilitator. Xyra and her mom were careful to always thoroughly wash their hands before and after handling the raccoon.
Xyra and the raccoon became fast friends, and the raccoon even fell asleep on Xyra a few times! When the time came to bring the raccoon to the rehab centre, it was very difficult for Xyra say goodbye to her new friend. But Xyra knew that the raccoon deserved a chance at life in the wild, which is exactly where a raccoon belongs!
Xyra’s hope for everyone reading her story? That they will want to take care of animals, to help animals in need, and to let wild animals stay wild.
Girl Guides of Canada’s Change Maker Award recognizes girls in Guiding as they take actions, small or large, local or international, community based or far-reaching. Each year, 20 girls from Sparks to Rangers are chosen. Check out the full list of this year’s recipients to read their amazing stories.