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CHRS Newsletter - April 2019

Date
Volume
2
Number
2

Calling All River Managers & Stewardship Groups!

This newsletter is brought to you by the Technical Planning Committee (TPC) of the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS) and is a forum through which heritage river managers and stewardship groups can share success stories and connect across Canada.

Previous volumes of the CHRS newsletter are available on our website.

Art Inspired by the River: Watermark

Watermark by artist Gerald Beaulieu
Watermark by artist Gerald Beaulieu Photo: Molly Demma

Watermark is a public art piece located along the St. John River on Fredericton’s Southside that is not just a pretty sculpture:  it provides a visual representation of the annual spring flood or freshet experienced along this river and tells the story of past high-water levels.

This piece consists of a row of 11 copper-clad wood posts of various heights to create a wave crest pattern. At the tops of ten of the markers, numbers are embedded in resin indicating metre-levels. The lowest post, when covered by water, indicates that flood stage has occurred (6.5m). 

The centre post is the history marker and has various years embossed in natural copper and placed at heights corresponding to water levels reached in that year. Many people stop at the site while using the adjacent section of The Great Trail, and recall their memories of past floods, including the significant flood of 1973. Last fall, Watermark’s centre post was updated with a plate to mark the significant level reached in 2018- the highest in recorded flood history.

Watermark was created by Prince Edward Island artist Gerald Beaulieu. The piece was commissioned by the City of Fredericton to provide an annual high-water marker for the community and was installed next to the riverbank in May 2016.

'Flowing into Right Relationship' Workshop Series

Workshop Facilitator Joseph Large presents to a class at Kikino Métis Settlement, near Lac la Biche, AB
Workshop Facilitator Joseph Large presents to a class at Kikino Métis Settlement, near Lac la Biche, AB Photo Credit: Keepers of the Athabasca

Keepers has new anti-racism funding to present our workshops for adults in Friendship Centres around Northern Alberta!  These workshops include:

  • Indigenous Water Governance:  Exploring pre-contact understandings about water and current paradigms while asking the question: can there be an Indigenous Water Governance model in Canada? 
  • Exploring the Treaties:  Reviewing the appropriate Treaty at each workshop location, while inviting discussion on historic and modern perspectives, along with how this Treaty has been and could be upheld.
  • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Comparing UNDRIP to the U.N. sustainable development goals; workshop participants will also learn about Canada’s history with this document. 
  • Community Climate Action:  Surveying climate science and Indigenous Knowledge observations, the difference between climate and weather, emergency preparedness, energy efficiency and solar programs, assessing solar design, and solar requests for proposals. We can also follow up and assist with the planning and contracting of your new solar installation!
  • The KAIROS “Blanket Exercise”: This powerful interactive exercise educates participants on the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada.  
  • State of the Watershed: A talking and listening circle provides a venue for communities to discuss watershed issues that they are concerned about. 

To amplify these efforts, we have applied for additional funding to do a radio ad competition, so get your thinking caps on! Winning ads could be featured on the radio for six months.
       Themes: 

  • How to be Treaty partners
  • How to live in harmony with the land
  • How to respectfully include Traditional Knowledge in science
  • How to accomplish climate justice

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CHRS River Managers & Stewardship Groups Forum

Looking to connect with other River Managers & Stewardship Groups working along Canada's Heritage Rivers? Click below to join the CHRS River Managers & Stewardship Groups Forum on Facebook!

New World Heritage Site Inscribed in Manitoba

Map of Pimachiowin Aki World Heritage Site
Map of Pimachiowin Aki World Heritage Site Photo credit: Pimaki.ca courtesy of Ashleigh Hall

On July 1, 2018 the UNESCO World Heritage Committee inscribed Pimachiowin Aki, “The Land That Gives Life”, as a World Heritage site. The 29,040 square kilometre site is located in the boreal forest spanning the Manitoba-Ontario boundary and includes the Bloodvein Canadian Heritage River.  With Indigenous peoples having lived in the area for more than 7,000 years, Pimachiowin Aki has been recognized for the outstanding universal value of both its cultural and natural features. 

Pimachiowin Aki is a living cultural landscape, with the Anishinaabeg continuing to live, harvest and travel throughout the area today.  The land is comprised of a mixture of forest, wetlands, rivers and lakes, and is home to species including woodland caribou, moose, wolf, wolverine, lake sturgeon, leopard frog, Canada warbler and countless others.

The inscription of this site followed many years of work by a partnership of four Anishinaabe First Nations - Bloodvein, Little Grand Rapids, Pauingassi and Poplar River – and the Manitoba and Ontario governments. Future programming is intended to safeguard cultural heritage, conserve and understand ecosystems and species, support sustainable economies and community-based initiatives, and provide for monitoring and public education. For more information about Pimachiowin Aki, visit www.pimaki.ca.

STREAM (Sequencing The Rivers for Environmental Assessment and Monitoring)

Caddisfly © Living Lakes Canada; Heather Crochetiere performing a kick
Caddisfly © Living Lakes Canada; Heather Crochetiere performing a kick

WWF-Canada’s Watershed Reports found a shocking data gap with respect to freshwater health, despite the heroic efforts of community groups, their staff and volunteers dedicated to safeguarding this essential public resource. STREAM is committed to increase the data and knowledge of Canada’s freshwater resources for better decision making. 

The new partnership between World Wildlife Fund Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Living Lakes Canada, Genome Canada and Dr. Mehrdad Hajibabaei of the University of Guelph will bring 21st century technology to communities.  The power of environmental DNA technology will be paired with community groups across the country to allow for faster sample analysis of benthic invertebrate data.

Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding is a combination of DNA identification and automated DNA sequencing to generate biodiversity data for freshwater benthic macroinvertebrates, the small animals that live at the bottom of streams and rivers. Changes in the make-up of these invertebrate communities can be excellent indicators of pollution and other environmental stressors.

Catherine Paquette

Compared to current monitoring methods, which can be slow and costly, eDNA metabarcoding technology has the potential to produce biodiversity data more quickly, more affordably and at a higher resolution. The results of DNA-based biomonitoring will support better environmental assessment, planning and regulatory decisions – which is essential as population growth, agricultural activity, resource development and climate change all put increasing pressure on Canada’s freshwater ecosystems.

Heather Crochetiere performing a kick

While many community groups already use biomonitoring to understand and manage the impacts of resource projects such as mines, hydro dams and energy projects, access to new genomics-based techniques for assessing watershed health will broaden the reach and impact of existing community-based monitoring programs, ultimately leading to better and faster data for informed decision-making.

WWF-Canada and its partners are currently looking for community groups to partner with for this project. If your group might be interested in participating in this project, or would like more information, please reach out to Catherine Paquette (cpaquette@wwfcanada.org)

Survey Says...

Last winter we surveyed you, our River Managers and Stewardship Groups, to get to know you better and to find out how you want to be engaged in the Canadian Heritage Rivers System.  The results have been analyzed.  Click here to find out the top things you said would assist River Managers in managing their Heritage River, and other survey results.

The Fraser Basin Council: Social Well-being Supported by a Vibrant Economy and Sustained by a Healthy Environment

017 FBC took part in Canadian Heritage River celebrations by hosting paddle wheeler tours on the Fraser River for the volunteers of community organizations
017 FBC took part in Canadian Heritage River celebrations by hosting paddle wheeler tours on the Fraser River for the volunteers of community organizations
In 2018, FBC sponsored two youth on a trip with the Rivershed Society of BC.  Photos: © Fraser Basin Council
In 2018, FBC sponsored two youth on a trip with the Rivershed Society of BC. Photos: © Fraser Basin Council

The Fraser Basin Council (FBC) brings people together to advance sustainability in British Columbia’s Fraser River Basin and throughout the province. What does that mean? For FBC, it means encouraging action on climate change and air quality, working for healthy watersheds and water resources, and building strong and resilient communities.

Collaboration is the hallmark of FBC’s work. The non-profit has taken on hundreds of partnership and facilitation projects, large and small, over the past 22 years. Most recently, it has helped roll out electric vehicle charging infrastructure in British Columbia and promote electric vehicles. Since 2014, FBC has also worked with 50 partners towards a collaborative strategy to reduce flood risk in BC’s Lower Mainland.

FBC has helped facilitate several watershed roundtables with a view to improved cooperation on issues of concern. It also manages programs for the Shuswap Watershed Council to improve water quality, encourage safe recreation and safeguard against invasive aquatic species. There is hope for more examples of collaborative watershed management to emerge in future years, as envisioned by BC’s 2016 Water Sustainability Act.

FBC is a founding partner and manager for Salmon-Safe BC – an eco-certification program that recognizes improved land management – in urban development and in agriculture - to enhance and better protect Pacific salmon habitat and water quality.

While the Fraser Basin Council works on diverse issues across BC, its roots are firmly in the Basin. And yes, a river runs through it! The Fraser River was designated as a Canadian Heritage River in 1998 for its outstanding natural and cultural values as well as its exceptional recreational opportunities. FBC was proud to support the original designation and to promote the importance of this river.

Learn more about FBC: www.fraserbasin.bc.ca.

Mountain Equipment Co-op in Vancouver achieved Salmon-Safe BC certification for its progressive land management practices. FBC oversees the Salmon-Safe BC program
Mountain Equipment Co-op in Vancouver achieved Salmon-Safe BC certification for its progressive land management practices. FBC oversees the Salmon-Safe BC program. Photo credits: Fraser Basin council
The Nechako Watershed Roundtable, facilitated by FBC and the University of Northern British Columbia, is an example of how people can come together to discuss issues impacting the health of their watershed.
The Nechako Watershed Roundtable, facilitated by FBC and the University of Northern British Columbia, is an example of how people can come together to discuss issues impacting the health of their watershed.

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Can't get enough of Canada's Heritage Rivers?

The CHRS is excited to announce the launch of our official webpage on the Parks Canada website. Check it out! 

Meet Ashleigh Hall: Chair of the CHRS Technical Planning Committee

Ashleigh Hall

In 2019 the role of TPC Chair rotated to Manitoba, so I assumed the position in January following my return to work after a maternity leave. Although I first got involved with CHRS work back in 2010 when I was a student planner, this is my first time acting as TPC Chair. I am now a Park Planner for the Government of Manitoba and working on projects associated with Manitoba’s four Canadian Heritage Rivers is often a really interesting and fun part of my job.

Being involved with the CHRS has reinforced the amazing diversity of rivers across Canada, and I find both the beauty of our rivers and the role they’ve played in history to be inspiring. Some of the projects I’ve worked on recently for the CHRS have provided me with the opportunity to reach out to the many Indigenous communities in Manitoba that have a connection to these rivers. I appreciate the chance to become more engaged with these communities as well as other river managers. I look forward to seeing these connections grow in the future, and hope this newsletter is one step towards helping you do the same.