For Immediate Release
For the Love of the Fraser River Basin and Its Salmon
Awareness is an upstream battle…
You probably read one story each day about the decline in wild salmon, the possibility of salmon and sturgeon becoming extinct, the pollution that is toxifying our Fraser River Basin, or the wildfires burning across British Columbia.
“The decisions we make today will be remembered, the impacts felt by generations to come.” – Fin Donnelly, on climate change, Chair of the Rivershed Society of British Columbia (RSBC) and Founder of FraserFEST.
The Rivershed Society of B.C. isn’t sitting idle, reading the stories in the news. They have been developing programs and projects for the last 22 years with the aim of reconnecting organizations and individuals with their riversheds, nature and communities while offering a first-hand look into climate change to understand the changes and what they can do to raise awareness.
Their largest project – a festival packed with educational river experiences and community outreach activities is FraserFEST, happening annually for the 5th time, August 5 to 26, 2018. The festival includes 11 community dinners in communities along the Fraser River, 7 raft trips in the Fraser Canyon, 7 sold-out days of guided paddling trips on the Lower Fraser River, 5 guided cycling trips in the Lower Fraser region, 6 eco tours and 1 Fraser River Swim. Participants learn about the Fraser’s history, culture, the issues threatening its health, solutions for change, as well as how to take action. The public can join the journey for a day and raft Hell’s Gate.
Another program RSBC has offered for 15 years is their Sustainable Living Leadership Program (SLLP). From August 2nd until the 28th, 2018, ten participants are travelling 1,400 kms down the Fraser River, from the headwaters to the sea, by canoe, raft, shuttle van and on foot. They travel through ten of BC’s fourteen biogeoclimatic zones, study watersheds, salmon, resource management and how to lower one’s ecological footprint. They discuss what it means to live sustainably; and how to apply Watershed CPR (conservation, protection and restoration). Evenings are spent camping under the stars along the banks of the river, while days are spent learning about stewardship and designing their own sustainability project to implement in their community on their return.
Some of the organizations that are rafting or paddling on the FraserFEST journey to reconnect to the Fraser River are organizations whose life work focuses on salmon and or rivers, like the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Indigenous Environmental Network, West Coast Environmental Law and the Fraser Basin Council. They have sponsored paddling teams, while two of Fraser Basin Council’s youth are on the SLLP journey. Funding or joining the journey by raft or canoe are many other organizations like Patagonia, Real Estate Foundation of BC, City of New Westminster, FortisBC and many more, all recognizing the importance of creating awareness of the health of our salmon and rivers.
During last year’s FraserFEST, The Rivershed Society of BC filmed a young woman, Keely Weget-Whitney, swim a section of the Fraser River producing the film, For The Love of Salmon, as a part of their collection of Rivershed Stories. Keely’s 60-kilometre Fraser River swim spanned from Lillooet to the Stein River. She was unsure if she would complete the swim, and furthermore if the swim would even have an impact. Her strength lay in the determination of bringing even a small drop of awareness to climate change and the environmental impacts that are having devastating effects on the salmon and our rivers today. “I just feel that if I, a young Indigenous Stl’atl’imx mother, care people will consider that and ask themselves, ‘Why don’t I care? What can I do to create change?’” As she battles the strong current and her own self-doubt, Keely encourages us all to come together to make change. The film consists of stunning aerial cinematography by Copper Sky Productions.
Keely’s swim and film has impacted viewers to take notice of environmental issues and work toward change. August 19, during FraserFEST 2018, Keely will be swimming the Fraser River again, with Fin Donnelly, Member of Parliament and the Critic for Fisheries, Oceans and Coast Guard, who will join her for a portion. Donnelly is also the Chair of the Rivershed Society of B.C. and has swam the full length of the Fraser River twice.
So when was the last time you took action with Climate Change? Need some inspiration? Well, get out and experience the Fraser River through FraserFEST at FraserFEST.ca , go see a screening of the film “For the Love of Salmon,” and also read more rivershed stories like Keely’s, or share your own at rivershed.com/stories
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Media is welcome to pre-screen the 5 minute film “For the Love of Salmon”, before its official release on World River’s Day, Sept. 23.
Interviews can be arranged with Fin Donnelly, Founder of FraserFEST and Chair of The Rivershed Society of BC, Keely Weget-Whitney or any of the SLLP participants from your community.
FraserFEST PHOTOS & FILM POSTER:
Please download high resolution poster and photos available from Google Folder here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/11UqQHWtLIr0dD7c6Pwt3XQDDmCLPsZiU?usp=sharing
About the Fraser River: The Mighty Fraser runs 1,370 km from its headwaters near Mount Robson into the Georgia Strait at Vancouver, making it the longest river in British Columbia. It drains 21 million hectares, more than a quarter of British Columbia. It is one of the largest salmon-producing riversheds in the world, as well as a life-giving force to the province’s economy.
About FraserFEST: August 5 – 26
Created by the non-profit organization, Rivershed Society of B.C. (RSBC), the focus of FraserFEST is to highlight the Fraser River’s history, culture and issues threatening its health, as well as to identify solutions, and to increase the number of wild salmon advocates in BC. FraserFEST aims to connect people to nature while encouraging them to commit to Watershed CPR (Conservation, Protection and Restoration). FraserFEST 2018 is funded by Tides Canada, The Western Mining Action Network (WMAN), The Indigenous Environmental Network, The Pacific Salmon Foundation, Pathways to Gold, as well as supported by many raft and canoe sponsors and environmental partners.
For more event information on FraserFEST events, dates, locations, please go to: http://fraserfest.ca
@fraserfest (Twitter) #FraserFEST
About the Rivershed Society of BC:
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: https://rivershed.com
@RivershedBC (Twitter & Facebook)
About the “For the Love of Salmon, Film Director:
Jan Vozenilek is Founder and Principal of Vancouver and Kelowna, B.C.-based Copper Sky Productions. A media artist, cinematographer, photographer and keynote speaker. www.copperskyproductions.com
Mari-Lou Nidle, Principal