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 length of 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.
Anniversary celebrations got underway with the RSBC AGM and annual dinner cruise on the Fraser aboard the MV Native Paddlewheeler riverboat in New Westminster last month. Williams Lake resident and SLLP alumna, Mary Forbes, was a guest speaker at the event.
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 one of the world’s greatest salmon rivers, the mighty 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.
“We are excited to see these 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 completes its 13th summer.”
This year, of the nine participants, three are from the Cariboo Chilcotin region and include:
Oliver Berger, who works at the Potato House Project in Williams Lake educating people about composting and gardening. He aims to create short, fun educational videos that will cover recycling, composting, gardening, rainwater collection and waste management education;
Simran Lehal of Williams Lake is a medical student at the UBC Northern Medical Program whose project will center on strengthening sustainability education in healthcare by examining how to support practices that enhance the social, economic and environmental health of Northern BC; and,
Candice Ford of Tatlayoko Lake, who plans to assist in developing and implementing a campaign to protect the Fraser Canyon Corridor; and assist in the delivery of future RSBC leadership programs, including identifying ways the SLLP can be expanded and/or improved.
When asked what they are looking forward to most about the program, Candice Ford said, “I am looking forward to dancing with the wild, powerful energies of the Fraser River with a group of kindred spirits, inspiring one another to pursue our sustainability projects with courage and creativity,” while Oliver Berger said, “I’m looking forward to learning from other participants about issues in other communities.”
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.
There are two days the SLLP group will be traveling through the Williams Lake area, and as long as there are no delays due to weather, logistics or other unforeseen circumstances, people should be able to spot them on Sunday, July 24th at the Cultural Day Celebration at Xatśūll Heritage Village, Soda Creek (north of Williams Lake); and on Monday, July 25th during the afternoon when Fisheries and Oceans Canada will conduct a juvenile fish net demonstration at the mouth of Williams Lake Creek. Afterwards, they will take a quick tour of the Potato House Project and then the Scout Island Nature Centre will host the group for a potluck dinner before they continue on their journey.
From Xatśūll to Lillooet, there will be a separate group traveling with the SLLP to discuss a conservation program. The RSBC and BC Spaces for Nature are exploring with local First Nations, ranchers and other land owners the idea of a Fraser Canyon Corridor Protection Plan—a partnership of interests who aim to conserve and protect the stretch of river between Williams Lake and Lillooet. Candice Ford will be joining that effort as part of her SLLP community sustainability project.
The SLLP season will draw to a close on Sunday, August 7th at the Jericho Sailing Centre in Vancouver.
After the SLLP, the Society will culminate its 20th anniversary celebrations with FraserFEST on August 27th and 28th.
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: www.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