Catalyst Experiences

In partnership with local communities and organizations, we facilitate hands-on learning experiences that promote social change and help you develop leadership skills to support your academic, career, and personal journey.

Two Row on the Grand (TROTG): A transformative learning experience on the Grand River, July 24 - August 2, 2024

The Two Row on the Grand is a 10-day canoe/kayak trip down the Grand River from Cambridge to Port Maitland on Lake Erie to symbolically honour the Two Row Waumpum Treaty that was originally signed in 1613 between the Mohawk Nation and the Dutch.  The treaty stated that both nations will travel down the river of life in peace together, close enough to help each other but not so close as to disrupt each other’s path.

The Two Row on the Grand (TROTG) is a grassroots initiative led by Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies - with significant support from Grand River Rafting Company and municipalities along the route - that seeks to promote healthy relationships, friendships, and respect between cultures, allowing Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples the opportunity to grow in understanding based on trust and respect.  Whenever possible we paddle in two rows – one Indigenous row and one ally row – to demonstrate the concept of the Two Row Wampum Treaty.  Together we will share the river, campgrounds, meals, educational events, traditional teachings, interactive dancing, storytelling, and sharing circles.  Up to 75 people participate in the TROTG each day. Watch this video to learn more about Two Row on the Grand.

With financial support from DHR's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Enhancement Fund, Catalyst Experiences in the Experiential Learning Hub will fund up to 10 students to participate in the TROTG, taking place July 24 - August 2, 2024. The funding covers the TROTG fee (which includes food, camp fees, and logistical support), canoe, paddle, and life jacket (PFD) rentals, and pre-program orientation and staff leadership support throughout the program).  Selected students must supply their own tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, personal items, and transportation to and from the start and finish locations. Selected students will pay a $100 deposit to demonstrate commitment to the experience, which they will recuperate upon completion of the paddling journey.

We welcome students from all backgrounds to apply and hope to have a balanced cohort of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.  Students must wear PFDs at all times when on or in the water. Students also need to be comfortable being in the water, be able to swim with a PFD on, and have experience with paddling a canoe or kayak.  Students will paddle two to three people per canoe with distances paddled each day ranging between 11-21 km.

Interested in learning more about the Two Row on the Grand journey itself to see if it’s for you? Join us for a Two Row on the Grand Info Session on February 5 at 6:00 p.m. to meet lead organizers Ellie Joseph (Six Nations) and Jay Bailey (non-Indigenous ally), and Janet Doner (University of Guelph) to learn more and ask your questions.

You can also reach out any time to Janet Doner, Manager of Campus and Community Integrated Learning in the Experiential Learning Hub for questions about the application process and participation parameters for these university-funded positions – jdoner@uoguelph.ca.

3 photos in a row, first of people talking in a circle outside, second of three people smiling in canoes on the water, third of a group of tents set up outside.A typical day on the TROTG begins with packing up your tent and belongings (which are transported to the next camp site for you), and enjoying breakfast that has been provided by the ground crew. You will then gather your personal items that you need for the day (water bottle, day pack with some snacks, sunscreen, hat, and reusable plate and utensils) and gather with the whole team for the reciting of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address.

The Safety Crew then goes over what the river journey will look like for that day, including unique features or river obstacles we may encounter, and where we will stop for lunch and set up camp. We then put on our life jackets, help each other get our boats in the water, wait until everyone is ready, raise our paddles in the air, and then start our journey for the day. Whenever possible, we travel in two rows, with an Indigenous lead boat for Indigenous paddlers, and a non-Indigenous lead boat for non-Indigenous allies. A safety boat at the back makes sure no one is left behind. Paddlers who are part of the safety crew guide people through swift waters, check in on people’s well-being, and offer support where needed.

Along the way we connect, talk, share stories, laugh, listen, and appreciate and honour the species and creatures that live within the watershed, and respect the river’s lessons. Soon enough we see the TROTG flags that the ground crew has set up which signifies where we will stop for a delicious lunch. Sometimes there may be a guest speaker, other times we rest.

We will then unload our gear from the groundcrew truck, set up our tents, help with any community responsibilities, and enjoy some relaxing time until dinner is ready.

After dinner, there is often a guest speaker or special activity that helps us reflect further on the purpose of the journey and gain a deeper understanding and respect for the peoples and nations on whose traditional lands we are staying. We may finish the evening, gathered around the campfire, enjoying conversations in small groups, or taking some time on our own to reflect on the day, wind down, and rest for the next day.

Here is a longer video produced by TROTG organizers from 2020 that provides a deeper overview of what the journey looks like.

Interested students must complete the online application by February 20, 2024.

Interviews with selected candidates will take place between February 26-March 1, 2024. Selected candidates will receive offers or a spot on the wait list by March 4, 2024. Acceptances for the funded positions are due March 8.

Selected students will then be directed to apply directly to the Two Row on the Grand and complete paperwork to be accepted to participate in the program. Selected students must also participate in a few pre-program sessions, organized by Catalyst Experiences, to help plan and prepare for the experience. These sessions include:

  • March 26, evening: Orientation session (hybrid)
  • Beginning of April: Land acknowledgements and historical overview of the Two Row Waumpum (In-person)
  • June (date TBD): Paddle instruction at Pinehurst Lake Conservation Area and review of camping gear (Full day)
  • July (date TBD): Online Logistics and planning session

  • February 5: Online information session with Two Row on the Grand Organizers and past participants
  • February 20: Applications due for positions
  • February 26 - March 1: Interviews with potential candidates
  • March 4: Selected candidates receive offers
  • March 8: Acceptances due
  • March 26: Team meeting - introductions, overview, applications to TROTG
  • April (date TBD): Team Meeting - acknowledging the land
  • May 10: $100 deposits due
  • June (date TDB): Full day team meeting - paddle instruction at Pinehurst Lake Conservation Area
  • July (date TBD): Team meeting - online logistics session

Click through to read some commonly asked questions about the Two Row on the Grand program.

  • First of all, anyone can apply to participate in the Two Row on the Grand directly if they have the financial resources to support their participation. This particular application process is to have your participation funded through the generous donation of DHR's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Enhancement Fund, and have additional Experiential Learning Hub staff support in your preparation and throughout your participation.
  • This application process has a few steps which are due by February 20, 2024. First, you need to complete the an online application. If successful with that step, you will be invited to a short online interview with staff from the EL Hub and the Indigenous Student Centre in early March.
  • You will then be notified if you are accepted for a funded position.
  • All selected students will be guided through the Two Row on the Grand application process. Please review the Application Process and Important Dates section for more information.

  • Given that this program is not a University-run program, but rather a University-funded opportunity to participate in the TROTG, the organizers of the TROTG are the ultimate decision makers. If your application is not accepted by TROTG then unfortunately, you will not have access to the funding for this opportunity.

  • Catalyst Experiences (with significant support from the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Enhancement Fund) will cover the TROTG fee plus the canoe/paddle/life jacket rental, and costs associated with supporting the program (approximately $1200 per person).
  • You will need to provide $100 deposit that will be returned to you at the end of the program. This deposit helps to demonstrate that you are committed to participate, as there are limited funded positions available to students and there is a significant investment in your participation.
  • You will also need to bring a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, and personal items to participate. A comprehensive packing list will be provided to you. If you don’t have a tent, sleeping bag, or mat, there will be time to ask friends and family to see if you can borrow these items. The University Outdoors Club also has a gear-lending library for registered members.
  • Finally, students will need to find their own transportation to the launch site in Cambridge early in the morning of July 24, and then be picked up from the end location in Port Maitland in the afternoon of August 2. Students can coordinate this together, so don’t worry if you don’t know how you will get there. There is plenty of time to sort this out.
  • During the program we will most likely spend an afternoon at the Six Nations Pow Wow. Entry to the Pow Wow will be covered through the TROTG fee, but this is the one time where you will need to purchase your own dinner meal.

  • Backpack or suitcase for your gear
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping mat
  • Day pack
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Fleece or sweater
  • T-shirts
  • Long sleeved shirts
  • Shorts
  • Pants
  • Swimwear
  • Water shoes
  • Land shoes
  • Wide brim hat
  • Mess kit (reusable plate/bowl, mug, water bottle, cutlery)
  • Biodegradable toiletries

  • You must be comfortable being in and on water and be able to wear a PFD at all times when on or in water. There will not be a swim test; you need to be confident in your abilities to swim with a PFD. We will paddle for 5-6 hours each day and travel up to around 20 kilometers each day. Some prior paddling experience is necessary. There are also a few times where we will need to portage the boats around dams, which will require walking and carrying boats and gear. You also need to be comfortable camping outdoors and not showering every day.

You will be an ambassador of the University of Guelph, and therefore expected to uphold the Students' Academic Responsibilities. All students must abide by the TROTG guidelines as well, which include:

  • Be respectful
  • Be safe
  • Clean up after yourself and help with group clean up
  • Cooperate with others
  • Support leadership's decisions
  • Be reasonable
  • Follow and respect the itinerary
  • Do not consume any mind-altering drugs or alcohol

  • To be a successful recipient of one of the 10 funded positions you need to agree to participate for the full duration of the Two Row on the Grand, which runs from July 24 - August 2, 2024. If you would like to participate in the Two Row and fund your own experience you have the option of participating for a portion of the journey. Please visit the Two Row on the Grand website for more information on how to apply directly and for different options for participation.

  • Catalyst Experiences in the Experiential Learning Hub – through the EDI Enhancement Fund – is administering the funds for up to 10 students to participate in the Two Row on the Grand. Catalyst Experiences oversees the application process for the funded positions, provides orientation and preparation to the selected students, and will also have a staff member participating in the TROTG with the students for additional support. The University is not responsible for any of the planning, programming, or decision-making of the TROTG. Students will also need to apply directly to the TROTG, complete their paperwork, read and agree to their policies and protocols, and sign their waiver form.

  • If after accepting the funded position and providing your deposit you can no longer participate, you will need to let Catalyst Experiences know as soon as possible so that we can hopefully offer the funded position to another student. If we are able to secure an alternative student in time then we will do our best to refund you your deposit. However, if we are not able to find a replacement, then you will not be refunded your deposit.
  • If for unforeseen reasons you start the journey and cannot complete it, it’s okay, life happens. You are ultimately responsible for getting home from wherever you finish the journey, and we will support you in a limited capacity if needed. We will always begin and end the day at places that are accessible by vehicle, and there is good cell reception along the way.

  • If you are selected for a fully funded position it is expected that you fully participate in the TROTG experience and do not come and go as you please. It is also important that participants follow the guidelines and expectations of the TROTG.

Have Questions?  Email catalyst@uoguelph.ca

Experience Profiles

  • Samantha is in her 5th year of undergraduate studies at the University of Guelph and is currently a SPARK writer, having previously completed course-integrated experiential learning.