By Julia Pepler
The Swim Drink Fish movement is one that grows every day with more people getting inspired to connect with their local water bodies and protect what they love. As our movement grows, we meet people with their own unique connections and stories to tell. Our new series, Faces of Swim Drink Fish, will celebrate those who have become a part of our movement locally in Vancouver and have joined us in ensuring swimmable, drinkable, fishable water for all.
Earlier this June, at the kick-off of our expanded Vancouver Water Monitoring Program, we were joined by Patricia and John from RBC, who were eager to learn about our program and help us collect our weekly water samples and environmental observations.
Our team met with Patricia, John, and two HSBC employees, at our in-house IDEXX lab on Granville Island and, as a group, we were excited to share stories about the different ways we have each connected to water. After a tour of our lab, we gloved-up and headed to Brokers’ Bay to get to work.
John getting ready to sample at Brokers' Bay.
RBC has been a long-time supporter of the Swim Drink Fish movement. For more than a decade, RBC and Swim Drink Fish have been working together to promote swimmable water across Canada. RBC is the lead supporter of Swim Guide, which provides millions of users across 10 countries with access to water quality data, beach information, and swim advisories.
Patricia and John represent the dedication RBC has put toward promoting clean water, mental health, education, and volunteerism. As they collected water samples down at the Brokers’ Bay docks, Patricia and John took their passion for water a step further as citizen scientists.
Patricia fell in love with water alongside her family, spending summers at Crescent Beach. She shared her Watermark with us about her summers, saying,
"I spent childhood summers at Crescent Beach since my grandparents built a home a few blocks from the water. My first swimming lessons were there and as a young child, I spent many days running across the beach with my cousins, collecting shells, having jellyfish fights, building rafts, fishing, and jumping off the dock. These were the years before adult supervision was always required for children, and we enjoyed a wonderful level of freedom and an unfettered connection to nature. Crescent Beach represents a special place and time in my life as well as a shared memory and connection with family.”
John’s Watermark was also about how he became connected to water at a young age, spending his summers on Big Hawk Lake at Camp Kawabi,
"Big Hawk Lake means so much to me. It was home to Camp Kawabi for many years and where I spent my summers from the age of 8 until I left as a counsellor at the age of 19. When I think of that lake, the first things that come to mind are smiling faces, the sounds of laughing children, and songs sung around campfires as the sun goes down. The camp is no longer running but the structures are all still there and my name is up in the rafters of the great hall, showing the years I completed the Big Hawk swim and the Big Hawk Canoe… I still have many friends from my years on that lake and think about it every time I am out on the water with my 3 kids.”
Joining us as citizen scientists, Patricia and John became a part of our growing movement to connect people with their local water bodies. Water quality is like the weather: it changes every day. The heart of being a citizen scientist is collecting water quality information at beaches and recreational water spots so that the public is empowered to protect their health through access to reliable data.
Patricia sealing one of the water samples.
After collecting the Brokers’ Bay water samples, Katie, our Vancouver Water Monitoring Coordinator, brought the group back to the lab and showed us how the samples are processed and incubated for 24 hours.
The following day, we were excited for Patricia and John to see that the samples they had collected contributed to a resource of reliable water quality information for Vancouver beachgoers and paddlers to access. RBC has been an instrumental supporter in growing the Swim Drink Fish movement, and we look forward to strengthening our partnership with them as we work towards providing more data for water users around Vancouver, and the world.
Our Vancouver Water Monitoring Program team currently samples every Thursday in False Creek, and we publish results to Swim Guide and our website on Friday, just in time for the weekend. If you are interested in joining our fleet of citizen scientists you can get involved in many ways:
- Volunteer with the Vancouver Water Monitoring Program
- Report pollution concerns at your favourite beaches on Swim Guide
- Share photographs and beach information with us on Swim Guide
- Suggest beaches that should be added to Swim Guide