The 2014 SLLP
Video by Jeremy Williams.
RSBC selected five participants for the 2014 Sustainable Living Leadership Program. The participants, their home towns, and their project ideas are listed below, along with video interviews:
- Lori Eaton, Prince George
Educational unit plan for her students.
- Alex Ensworth, Port Coquitlam
Photo-Journal to profile the people who live, work, and depend upon the Fraser. Alex will be developing this project with Katie Furness-Moore (see video below).
- Katie Furness-Moore, Port Coquitlam
Photo-Journal to profile the people who live, work, and depend upon the Fraser. Katie will be developing this project with Alex Ensworth.
- Orden Mack, Williams Lake
Document the trip and work with the Moccasin Footprint Society to educate people about the positive contributions of Indigenous people.
- Natalya Melnychuk, Sorrento
Create a small-town promotional booklet highlighting the strengths of Chase, BC, a community with quickly a decreasing population.
If you are on the Fraser River this August, keep an eye out for the group as they pass through your community. If you would like to meet them, stop by and say hi at the following locations, but please keep in mind these dates and times are subject to change due to weather, logistics or other unforeseen circumstances:
- Saturday, August 9 – Morning hike through Ancient Cedar rainforest, Hwy 16 near Crescent Spur
- Sunday, August 10 – Cultural Day Celebration at Xatśūll Heritage Village, Soda Creek (north of Williams Lake)
- Monday, August 11 – Afternoon DFO juvenile fish net demonstration at Sheep Creek Bridge, Williams Lake
- Saturday, August 16 – Bridge River tour / Cayoosh Creek Campground, Lillooet
- Thursday, August 21 – Morning tour of Glen Valley Organic Farm, Langley
- Friday, August 22 – Lunch at the Fraser River Discovery Centre, New Westminster
- Saturday, August 23 – Paddle completion and afternoon arrival at Jericho Sailing Club, Vancouver
Updates from Along the Way
Saturday, August 23rd
The Sustainable Living Leadership Program is in the home stretch now. They left McDonald Park in Richmond this morning, heading toward the mouth of the mighty Fraser River, and then will be paddling in the ocean until they reach Vancouver’s shores this afternoon.
Since our last update on Tuesday, the SLLP has been traveling from Harrison Mills to Langley, Coquitlam, New Westminster, then Richmond. Today is their last day of paddling.
On Wednesday, the group paddled from the Kilby Campground in Harrison Mills to Glen Valley Regional Park in Langley. Nancy Furness met the group at the park that evening for dinner and an informal discussion about invasive insect species. Nancy works with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and spoke about how the CFIA tries to control the movement of invasives through shipping. They discussed the characteristics of invasive species and how invasive plants and insects negatively impact biodiversity. Nancy said it was a beautiful evening in a beautiful setting and the team seems to be content. They appear to have fallen in to a natural rhythm and have formed a very comfortable team.
Thursday, the day started with a tour of Glen Valley Organic Farm. After lunch, it took the team a long time to pack up because the tide had gone out, which meant that the canoe was a long way from the campsite. They had to form three chain gangs to move all the gear from the campsite to the canoe and trudge through the muddy, mucky river bottom. Unfortunately, this set the whole day back, and made for a late arrival in Coquitlam so the tour with Jane Thomsing, a 2008 SLLP Alumni, of the community garden at Colony Farm had to be canceled. Jane did get to join them for part of the paddle from Langley, however.
They arrived in Kwikwitlem that evening and enjoyed a salmon dinner prepared by a fellow named Ed. Afterwards, they got to see some canoes and then some families of the hosts came out and joined the group for the rest of the evening.
Friday morning, Fin Donnelly (RSBC’s chair and founder), Colin O’Neil (a 2013 SLLP Alumni), Amy Greenwood (from the Fraser Basin Council) and Amy’s daughter Evelyn joined the SLLP team for the paddle from Coquitlam to New Westminster.
In New Westminster, they had lunch at the Fraser River Discovery Centre. Colin O’Neil talked to the team about his SLLP community project, and Amy Greenwood spoke about how the Fraser Basin Council is organized and what they do.
This year’s team is small, which made for some tough days paddling the Lower Fraser when the tide was often going against them. Yesterday, it took over five hours for the paddle from New Westminster to Richmond. Needless to say, when they reached Richmond last night they were happy to eat dinner and give their arms a rest.
Today, Fin Donnelly is with them again, paddling from Richmond to Vancouver. They will be stopping for lunch at Secret Cove, and then stopping again at the Museum of Anthropology before reaching the Jericho Sailing Centre this afternoon. They will be staying the night in Vancouver, and having a small graduation ceremony tomorrow morning before heading home.
The group has been lucky with the weather this year. It has been beautiful, other than a couple of days of rain, thundershowers and a sandstorm in the Cathedrals. It rained a bit overnight when they were in the Goat River Valley, and drizzled a little during a hike when they were there, but that’s it. Mosquitoes weren’t bad either, so all in all, they seem to have had it pretty good.
We are looking forward to seeing Lori, Orden, Katie, Alex and Natalya’s progress with their projects over the course of the next several months. Way to go, team. Congratulations on a journey well done.
Tuesday, August 19th
The Sustainable Living Leadership Program is on the last leg of their journey and are in the Lower Fraser now. The participants and facilitators are tired, but seem to be in good spirits. Fin Donnelly traveled to Hope this morning and spent time with them before they headed for Kilby. The raft portion of the trip is over, they stepped off the raft for the last time in Yale yesterday (Monday).
Since we last heard from the SLLP a week ago, they have traveled by raft from Sheep Creek Bridge (just south of Williams Lake), through a remote area called the Cathedrals, to Leon Creek, then on to Lillooet, followed by Nahatlatch and then Yale.
They spent two nights in the Cathedrals, where they experienced some rain and heavy winds, which is unusual for this time of year. The wind was blasting strong enough that there was a sandstorm and one of the facilitator’s tents got blown down in the night.
In Lillooet, the SLLP stayed at Cayoosh Creek. They were scheduled to take part in a ceremony with biologist Alexandra Morton but, unfortunately, it was cancelled because Ms. Morton was in the Likely area, taking water and sediment samples from Quesnel River and Quesnel Lake. Instead, the Xwísten band took the group on a tour of their traditional fishing grounds, the Bridge River fish rocks. The SLLP participants were shown how to cut, hang and dry a fish. The demonstration included how all the parts of a salmon are used. Afterwards, they got to eat a salmon.
The following day they rafted through rapids to Nahatlatch, with a stop at Hell’s Gate in Boston Bar. From there, they carried on to Yale, thereby completing the raft portion of the trip.
From Yale, the group took the shuttle van to Hope, where they left the Hope boat launch by voyageur canoe. They had a five to six-hour paddle ahead of them before reaching their Kilby campsite, which is in Harrison Mills.
Tomorrow (Wednesday), they will be doing a couple of project presentations while they are at the Glen Valley Regional Park. Nancy Furness, who works with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, will be joining them to do a talk about invasive species.
Jane Thomsing, a 2008 SLLP Alumni, will be joining them for the paddle to Kwikwitlem, where she will take them on a tour of the Colony Farm community garden. Afterwards, they will join the Kwikwitlem First Nation for a salmon barbecue.
Tuesday, August 12th
As mentioned in the previous update, the SLLP spent a few days in the Goat River Valley. The weather was good while, with only a little bit of rain. They did trail maintenance work on the Goat River Trail with the Fraser Headwaters Alliance. Unfortunately, the cable car across the Goat River is still down so the group was not able to use it. They did a hike up to Goat Ridge, and had to do some bushwacking to make it to the lookout.
Saturday was busy. They left the Goat River Valley by shuttle van in the morning and drove to the Ancient Rainforest near Prince George, where they explored and had lunch. From there, they shuttled to Quesnel, where they were guests of honour at a community dinner hosted by the Baker Creek Enhancement Society. Afterwards, still having more distance to cover, the group piled into the van again and carried on to the Xatśūll Heritage Village, where they spent the night.
On Sunday, the SLLP was invited to attend an information meeting hosted by the Soda Creek and Williams Lake bands to discuss the Mount Polley mine disaster. From the meeting they learned that there are still a lot of questions and very little answers in regards to the extent of the damage, the safety of the water, or the effects on salmon. None of the local First Nation bands are fishing right now, during what would normally be their busiest time of catching and storing salmon for the winter. This is devastating for the communities because salmon is an important staple of their diets, and is also culturally important.
One of the participants on this year’s trip, Orden Mack, is from Williams Lake. The Mount Polley issue is hitting him hard.
The SLLP participants learned that the Musqueam Nation from Vancouver are catching salmon and sending it up by truck to help the First Nations people in the affected region have some salmon for winter. The Musqueam still have to abide by allotment rules, however, so they are not allowed to catch extra fish to help folks near Likely out. This means that the salmon they are sending up is coming from their own supplies. We at RSBC have also heard that the Stó:lō Nation from the Fraser Valley is shipping fish up to help the Tsilhqot’in band. It is nice to hear of such heartwarming and generous actions in the middle of all this bad news. This is what community is all about.
Yesterday (Monday), was the first day of the rafting portion of the trip. The raft is their main mode of transportation for eight days, as they travel from Xatśūll to Yale. Jake and Shane from Fraser River Raft Expeditions are their rafting guides.
From Xatśūll, the group carried on to Sheep Creek Bridge (near Williams Lake), where they set up camp and took part in a salmon demonstration with DFO. They spent the afternoon touring the Potato House Project with Mary Forbes (2010 SLLP Alumni) and Marin Patenaude (2013 SLLP Alumni). The Potato House Project was started by Mary after taking part in the SLLP in 2010 (as her SLLP community project). Afterwards, the participants went to the Scout Island Nature Centre for a potluck dinner.
The weather has been hot, reaching 35° yesterday. It has been a busy few days, and the Program is getting even more intense now with working on their sustainability plans, traveling each day, and setting up and taking down camp each and every night and morning.
Today is day 13 of the Sustainable Living Leadership Program. They left Sheep Creek Bridge, near Williams Lake, this morning and will be spending the next few nights camping on beaches beside the river in a remote area known as Cathedrals (for the dramatic hoodoos). They will be out of cell phone range for the next several days, until they reach Lillooet (Saturday), where they are scheduled to take part in a ceremony with Alexandra Morton.
Wednesday, August 6th
Today the group left the campsite at McBride. It is their third and final day of paddling the Upper Fraser, and it will be a long one. They are scheduled to be paddling for 8 or 9 hours until the reach Crescent Spur. From there, they will take the shuttle van into the Goat River Valley—an old growth fir forest and tributary to the Fraser River—where they will spend the next three nights. There was some concern about whether they would be able to camp and/or hike in the Goat River vicinity because of three forest fires that were burning near the headwaters. Luckily, it turned out that the fires were small and are out now so the group will be able to carry on as planned.
Yesterday the SLLP participants had a day of outdoor classroom activities at Beavercreek Campground on the outskirts of McBride, learning about riversheds and working on developing their community projects. They also hiked to a waterfall while one of the facilitators (Jacquie) stayed behind on bear duty because a little black bear visited their camp in the morning. The day went well, and the bear did not return.
Tomorrow the group will be helping members of the Fraser Headwaters Alliance with trail maintenance on the Goat River Valley Trail, and to repair a broken cable car that crosses the Goat River.
On Saturday morning, the SLLP will leave the Goat River Valley and shuttle to the Xatśūll Heritage Village. They will stop at the Ancient Rainforest near Prince George in the morning, and then in Quesnel for a pot luck dinner Saturday evening before arriving in Xatśūll, where they will spend two nights.
Obviously, with the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond disaster, there is some question as to whether the trip will be able to carry on as planned. Currently, it is looking like they will be able to raft from Xatśūll, although they probably will not be able to swim in the water. What a shame! This leg of the journey could change, however, depending on the results of water testing, etc.
Monday, August 4th
The Sustainable Living Leadership Program started this past Thursday, July 31st. The participants gathered together for the first time in Mount Robson Provincial Park to set up camp. Unfortunately, one of the participants, Gabriela Pérez, was unable to make it due to an illness in the family. Her presence will be missed, and we hope she is able to join us next year.
So far, the weather has been great. It has been sunny and hot. The bugs have not been bad this year, which is great news for the team as they don’t feel like they are being eaten alive like some previous years.
On Saturday, the group went to Overlander Falls and the Fraser Headwaters. The group paddles well together—they practiced their canoe and paddling skills on Yellowhead Lake and Kinney Lake. On their way back to the campsite from Kinney Lake, there was an intense thunder shower and (from the safety of the shuttle van) they saw a forest fire start from a lightning strike.
Yesterday (Sunday), the group started the Fraser River journey in earnest. They were sent off with a gratitude ceremony by Danielea Castell from the Water Gratitude Society, and arrived in Dunster, where they spent the night.
So far, participants have swam in the Fraser River, at the closest to the headwaters they will be (brrr!). They have shared their own rivershed stories/identities, and how they came to be on the trip.
We look forward to sharing more trip updates when they are back in an area with cell phone reception. Stay tuned!
- Lori Eaton, Prince George
2014 Photo Galley