The Rivershed Society of BC (RSBC) is marking twenty years as a non-profit organization committed to improving the health of BC’s longest river, the Fraser. It was Fin Donnelly`s “Swim for Life” down the Fraser that sparked the inception of RSBC in 1996. The Society has been actively delivering public education programs, community initiatives and building stewardship capacity in the Fraser River Basin ever since.
Consisting of 34 intricately linked and interdependent riversheds, the Fraser River Basin drains 21 million hectares (more than a quarter) of British Columbia, and supports more salmon runs than any other river in the world. It is home to seven salmon species, including steelhead, and many other fish species, including the giant sturgeon. It is also BC’s most productive waterfowl breeding area. The Fraser’s plume extends across much of the Strait of Georgia; its edge is an amazing place to watch for loons, grebes, porpoises and orcas.
RSBC’s anniversary celebrations got underway in New Westminster last month. Next on the docket is the 13th annual Sustainable Living Leadership Program (SLLP), which takes participants on an ultimate 25-day 1,400 km wilderness travel experience down the Fraser River.
In line with the RSBC’s vision of “Salmon flourishing in rivers; people flourishing in communities,” the participants will travel by canoe, raft, shuttle van and on foot from the Fraser’s headwaters near Mount Robson to the shores of Vancouver. Days will be spent learning about stewardship and designing their own sustainability projects to implement in their communities upon their return home.
Simon Zukowski of Victoria is one of the nine participants who has been chosen for the SLLP. Simon works as a manager for the BC government and is the founder of BCspeaks, a non-profit start-up that works to strengthen democracy by organizing citizen assemblies on topics chosen by British Columbians.
Simon moved to BC from Poland at age eleven and said the trip offers him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the province and learn about its people and history. “I’m also looking forward to learning about the issues facing the Fraser and bouncing ideas off of my fellow SLLP-ers on how we can help make sure the river stays healthy and strong for us and future generations.” He plans to organize a citizen assembly on the health of the Fraser River, comprising randomly selected residents of communities within the Fraser River Basin.
Traveling with Simon will be Orion Radies of Vancouver; David Tracy of Vancouver; Megan Rempel of Coquitlam; Oliver Berger of Williams Lake; Candice Ford of Tatlayoko Lake; Simran Lehal of Williams Lake; John Lewis of Coquitlam; and Petra Markova of Port Coquitlam.
The trip begins July 14th and will have the participants traveling through ten of BC’s fourteen biogeoclimatic zones, from the source of the Fraser River near Mount Robson to the Strait of Georgia. The group of community leaders will study watersheds, salmon, resource management and learn how to lower their ecological footprint.
“We are excited to see these nine individuals learn and grow over the course of the program,” said Fin Donnelly. “We look forward to the positive impacts they will make in their communities after the Sustainable Living Leadership Program wraps up.”
After three weeks away, their canoe will pull up at the Jericho Sailing Centre on Saturday, August 6th, where they will camp for the night thanks to the Jericho Sailing Centre Association who allow the SLLP to use the facilities. A graduation ceremony will take place the next morning on August 7th before the participants head home.
Later in August, the Society will culminate its 20th Anniversary celebrations with FraserFEST on the 27th and 28th with a community festival, guided canoe journeys and group bike rides.
The Sustainable Living Leadership Program is proudly supported by the Real Estate Foundation of BC and the Gainey Foundation.
The RSBC is a non-profit charitable organization with a mission to protect, conserve and restore the health of BC riversheds in this generation. RSBC comprises a voluntary board of directors, a small staff, annual programs and events, and many volunteers, members and donors. RSBC works with numerous watershed stewardship groups, First Nations, government and community leaders throughout the Fraser River Basin and British Columbia. More information at: http://rivershed.com
MEDIA INTERVIEWS: Interviews with Fin Donnelly, and SLLP participants / facilitators / advisors are available upon request.
Director of Communications
Rivershed Society of BC
Phone: (604) 992-4769