This Earth Day, we’re thinking a lot about what our shared water means to us, and why we’re motivated to defend it.
We think sharing stories is great way to learn more about each other, to be inspired by and accountable to each other. That’s why we wanted to share our stories of why we’re water guardians, and hope you will too.
Christine Mettler, Communications and Special Projects Lead
Sometimes, I feel like my heart and the natural world are connected. When I laze next to the deep blue Okanagan Lakes, or float down the Shuswap River, I feel nourished.
The life-giving lands and waters of our planet are a universal anomaly. We’ve discovered nowhere else in the enormity of the known cosmos that is as special as our home.
And yet, our Earth has some deep scars. It’s estimated that some 75% of ice-free land has been altered from its natural state by humans.
Land and water are inextricably connected, and restoring land is a way to take care of our water. Lately, I’ve been really excited about the possibilities of restorative development and green infrastructure as a way to heal past damage. I am so lucky and humbled to be able to offer some of my time and energy to advancing this work with CFA.
Lindsay Telfer, National Director
Searching for crayfish along the shores of the Thames River in St. Mary’s, Ontario, swimming between the shores of the sand dunes of Sauble Beach--these are two of my favourite childhood memories. They have shaped me, where I find peace, and what I value most in life.
A few decades later, it’s moments like seeing the smiles of my children when they splash in our home waters of Lake Couchiching, or paddling through many of central Ontario’s lakes and rivers - that I look forward to most.
I can’t imagine not having these experiences, or not passing them onto my children. Yet, this possibility is all too real. Every summer our local beaches get posted, and I have to tell my children that they cannot go swimming. I can’t imagine not getting clean water when I turn on my taps at home, yet less than 100 km from where I live, the Indigenous community of Georgina Island has been under a boil water advisory for years.
Our communities, our economies, ourselves don’t exist without water. I feel lucky that I get to work for something I believe so strongly in, but I wish more that my job wasn’t even necessary.
Megan Peloso, BC Communications Lead
My family is a long line of fishes. That’s what you call someone who, once in the water, is tough to catch or remove. My youngest niece, Katherine (pictured here in the Ottawa River) is a fish, like me. We enjoy being in the water, and though we’re more than a few watersheds apart, we ‘get’ each other.
To me, a guardian is someone who looks out for something or someone outside of themselves. When we add water, it takes on a natural reciprocity. Look out for it, and it will look out for you.
Being a water guardian means that whether I am swimming in Seymour Lake, or removing trash from the shorelines of the Bulkley River, my mandate is always clear: to feel joy, awe and respect. Doing what I can to keep rivers, lakes and streams healthy and thriving so that others can enjoy them too, flows naturally from there.
Natalija Fisher, Navigable Waters Organizer
As belly-up fish floated in Lake Ontario, my mom began to cry for the waters of our new home.
I carried that memory with me as I sought to understand what threatened the living blue ecosystem at the edge of Toronto. With age came a growing sense of responsibility for the very same waters that soothed and calmed. Thinking “what does the water need from us?” rather than simply “what do we need from the water?” is part of what being a guardian means to me.
Whether we are working to change systems and laws, tending to the land we live on, or being cautious about what we flush, there are so many ways that each of us can make a difference. Lately, I’ve been combining my care for waters with a bit of exercise by plogging. In case you haven’t heard, it’s a hot new exercise and litter pick-up routine from Sweden (that I am slowly turning my friends onto).
Raj Gill, Great Lakes Organizer
Growing-up in Montreal, my connection with the Saint Lawrence River was the rush-hour traffic reports about congestion on the island’s bridges. Though we were learning about the St. Lawrence at school, it always seemed like a far-off place--a place I wanted to visit someday, with it’s grand tales of beluga whales and all manner of amazing wildlife and wild places.
Only later, once I’d moved away, did the sadness and loss strike me. I had been living on an island, surrounded by this majestic river, and never really fully connected or appreciated that relationship.
For me, being a water guardian is honouring that relationship. It’s about cherishing, respecting and protecting the land and waters I’m on, and building community with others to do the same.
Coree Tull, Organizing Director
Every January, a new batch of salmon eggs would be delivered to my elementary school, an initiative of the Salmonids in the Classroom program. For the next three months, you could find me with my head pressed up against the fish tanks, waiting and watching as the salmon eggs hatched to alevin and grew into fry. In mid-March we would wish our new friends good luck and release the fry into our local streams. By October I was elated to see Coldstream Creek--my neighbourhood stream--come alive with spawning salmon. I can still remember the magic and excitement that flowed through the streams with every new salmon's arrival.
This past year, I got to bring my daughter to Still Creek, one of the few streams in Vancouver with salmon returning to spawn after 80 years. The joy and excitement on my daughters face as she stood there watching the magic of the red and green dance happening before her eyes, brought me back to my 8 year-old self standing on the stream bank in awe of the journey these salmon had just endured.
These salmon remind me not to give up, allowing our stories to fuel us, and--against all odds--to keep swimming because we will succeed in defending our waters.