The Rivershed Society of British Columbia formed in the wake of Fin Donnelly’s “Swim for Life” down B.C.’s longest river, the Fraser, in 1995. After this 1370 km month-long event, there was a demand for Fin to speak in British Columbia schools and communities. Requests for his slide show presentation evolved into the Rivershed Education Program and eventually the Society.
Since its inception in 1996, the RSBC has earned the respect of many Fraser River Basin organizations – including stewardship groups, schools, First Nations, and local and senior government agencies – by delivering quality public education programs, community initiatives, and by building stewardship capacity in the Fraser River Basin.
The RSBC is a non-profit charitable organization with an voluntary board of directors, programs and communications committees, a small staff and many volunteers, members and donors. The RSBC works with numerous watershed stewardship groups, First Nations, government and community leaders throughout the Fraser River Basin and British Columbia.
In 1996, Fin founded the Rivershed Society of British Columbia. In 1997, the Squamish Nation honoured Fin with the name, Iyim Yewyews, which means strong swimmer in the animal world or Blackfish – Killer Whale. Fin’s passion for the environment stemmed from his University of Victoria philosophy studies and volunteer work. He has been an advocate of sustainable living for over twenty years. From 2002 to 2009, Fin served as a Coquitlam City Councillor. In November 2009, Fin was elected Member of Parliament for New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port Moody. Fin lives in the Coquitlam Rivershed, with his wife Lynda.
From 1990-2000, Fin made 14 environmental marathon swims, covering more than 3,200 km in BC’s rivers, lakes and ocean. He has swum the 1,400 km length of the Fraser River twice, Quesnel Lake, Pitt Lake, Williams Lake, Raush River, Georgia Strait (four times) and Juan de Fuca Strait, drawing attention to issues threatening the health of these significant water bodies, and the need for increased stewardship. Since 1995, Fin has talked to over 65,000 people in hundreds of BC schools and communities.
- Sustainable Living Leadership Program (2002 – present)
- Riversheds Forum (2001 – present)
- Fraser Initiative (2007 – 2009)
- Rivershed Education Program – spoke to over 60,000 people (1996 – 2008)
- Project Rivershed Brunette – Demonstration project (2006 – 2008)
- Healthy Riversheds Fund – awarded 8 grants (1996 – 2000)
- Coquitlam Rivershed Eco-Footprint Project (2002). This study examined the ecological footprint of residents living within the Coquitlam Rivershed.
- Spirit of the Salmon Feasts (1997 – 2002)
- Environmental Career Options (ECO) Workshops (2001 – 2002)
- Fraser 2000 Spirit of the Salmon Swims (2000)
- Spirit of the Salmon Swim, Lower Fraser (1997 – 99)
- Preparation for a Sustainable Future (1998 – 99)
- Sky, Land, Water, Trees Art Shows (1997 – 99)
- Fraser Rivers Basin Tours (1996 – 99)