This was a big year for Fraser Riverkeeper. We expanded our water monitoring program, co-hosted a Fraser River cleanup, cheered on Lauren Hornor as she was honoured with the 2019 YWCA Women of Distinction Award, and held our biggest fundraising gala to-date.
We learned so much about the Swim Drink Fish movement, the people within it, the waters that it affects, and the reach of our mission. Here are six things we learned about our waters this year:
1. People feel connected to the Fraser River and are still inspired to clean it up
On March 23, we hosted the 12th Annual Fraser River Cleanup with Woodtone. Over 700 volunteers from around the Lower Mainland came out to comb the banks of the Fraser River in Chilliwack and remove debris and garbage before the river’s spring freshet (flooding from heavy rain and/or melting snow). These incredible volunteers helped prevent 6.5 tonnes of illegally dumped garbage from reaching the Salish Sea. We were so grateful for their efforts and the support of local organizations, sponsors, and community groups. We will definitely be hosting another clean up in the spring so keep your eyes peeled for updates!
Volunteers at the 12th Annual Fraser River Cleanup
2. Underground streams run throughout Vancouver
Our Digital Content Coordinator, Julia Pepler, did some research and discovered Vancouver’s underground streams. These streams, once the life source of diverse creatures throughout Vancouver, were buried in the 1800s in a network of pipes that flow into False Creek, Burrard Inlet, and the Fraser River. Today, restoration projects are underway to “daylight” or uncover these streams and allow them to flow freely. Learn more about Vancouver's lost streams here.
3. Vancouverites benefit from monitoring local waters
With the expansion of the Vancouver Water Monitoring Program, we saw more than 100 volunteers join our team in False Creek to learn about water monitoring and get trained as citizen scientists. These volunteers helped us collect over 460 water samples and record long-term environmental data. All this data helped inform Vancouverites about where and when to get out on the water.
We trained many groups, including VOWSA (Vancouver Open Water Swim Association), who shared with us that our program helps them prevent illness due to E. coli contamination. Seeing this first-hand impact inspires us to do more. In 2020 we will be expanding our water monitoring program beyond False Creek to two new locations in East Vancouver. If you would like to join us as a citizen science volunteer in the new year, learn more and sign up here.
Katie Moore trains citizen scientists at our Granville Island water monitoring location.
4. Artists provide new connections to water
This year, we had a chance to deepen our understanding of how artists help connect us to our waters. In a collective blog by our team, we explored how writers can provide new ways to learn about Canada’s waterways and present new perspectives on the importance of clean water for all Canadians.
Our 4th Semi-Annual Swim Drink Fish Gala saw seven visual artists come together and donate their creative works and voices to inspire a new generation of water guardians. These artworks were auctioned off to fund our mission towards swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters. You can learn more about how these artists support the movement here.
At our gala, we were also incredibly fortunate to have three musicians, Terra Lightfoot, Bill Henderson, and Les Stroud, and comedian Graham Clark, raise their voices for the protection of our waters. These performances inspire us to continue our work and ensure Canadians can continue to connect with water in a meaningful way.
Musicians Les Stroud, Terra Lightfoot, and Bill Henderson. Photo: Steph Schumann
5. Restoration is happening on the Fraser River
There’s no denying that this was a difficult year for climate news. More and more we are reminded of the dire state of the environment and climate. Katie Moore, our Vancouver Water Monitoring Coordinator, gave us a hopeful deep dive into the various restoration projects that are happening on the Fraser River in a blog post. She highlighted the importance of restoration work, how widely the impacts can spread, and ways that you can get involved with restoration. Read Katie’s blog here.
6. Our movement is growing
Thanks to the dedication of our supporters, volunteers, and partners, our movement is growing. The Swim Drink Fish movement has grown to over 4-million people, working in 182 communities, engaging over 400 citizen scientists, empowering more than 3000 youth through education programs, and teaching 3-million people about swimmable, drinkable, fishable water.
Our work ensures that communities can swim, drink, and fish forever. You can help support our mission by making a donation. Donate before midnight on December 31st and you will be eligible for a charitable tax receipt.
Thank you for an incredible year. We are excited for what is to come in 2020!