Discovering the Water Community

Moving across the country is scary, just like learning about threats to the environment is scary.

I grew up in rural Manitoba, close to the water and the Canadian Shield. Making the move to British Columbia was a big decision and living here presents me with more big decisions almost daily. The huge skyscape of Vancouver and the mountains are very far from what I knew at home. 

The thing that came with me on this big move, other than my pets and my clothes, was a worry about the environment. A move couldn’t take away news stories about the climate crisis, and the changes we all have to make to stop it. I still carry around reusable straws, turn off lights and try to use as little plastic as I can, but it feels like a small effort to fight a larger issue.

I’m enjoying my time in BC.

I visit the ocean, walk through old-growth forests and sit along mountain streams. It’s easy to picture my new home as far away from my worries, but then I went camping at Stave Lake. For the first time I saw a stream running low, and I sat on the cold river rocks of the lake bed instead of the shore. Stave Lake is in a “very dry” region according to the BC drought portal, putting it, and almost half of BC at risk of forest fires.

BC, especially Vancouver, has about 4 million more people than Manitoba. Living in a huge city for the first time used to make me think that no one cared because it’s easy to imagine yourself as a single – it's harder to see that you’re a part of a whole. 

Finding the water community – something I didn’t have in Manitoba – has made me realize I’m working with a lot of people who are doing their best for Canada’s water, ecosystems and environment.

I started work with The Freshwater Alliance and was introduced to people all over Canada who are working towards protecting our freshwater. I’ve talked to a lot of people at events who say they don’t know enough to do anything, but that’s not true.

I’m just a 20-something college student who wants to do better, and honestly, that want to do better is what matters. One rainy Vancouver day, I was out tabling for CFA, and a woman about my age came up and signed the petition to end the commercial bottling of groundwater in BC. She asked me what she could do to help, what kind of changes she should make. I saw her bright pink water bottle and told her she was probably doing more than she realized and encouraged her to start talking to her friends about water health and sustainability.

I’ve learned to be excited about the “small things” people say they’re doing, like turning off the tap when they brush their teeth or carrying a reusable water bottle. If someone wants to do more there are so many opportunities to volunteer, work and support the freshwater community if they reach out. For people who aren’t able to volunteer their time, helping spread awareness and knowledge is a big win for us. 

I’ve got big plans this summer. I’m going to help salmon fry by moving river rocks, I’m helping with a bike tour along the Katzie Slough to raise awareness about ecosystems and how to help protect them and connect as many people as I can to the water community

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Freshwater health can seem scary and out of one person’s control, especially if when you think it’s just one person who’s making the effort. The freshwater community is much larger than I thought before moving to BC, and it’s an amazing community to be a part of.  

I talk to people who are organizing cleanups, raising awareness and helping people understand how one person can make a difference. It’s amazing how a little bit of desire and reinforcement can stop the self-doubt. 

I’m still learning and exploring my new home, but every day I do it with a little more confidence because I know how important it is to try.

Everyone can be a voice for freshwater health if they talk.