The latest news and updates on our programs.
New environmental project kicks-off in northern Quebec
This past spring, Water First and Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, located in northern Quebec near the border of Labrador, started a collaboration on a new environmental project.
This three-year project includes both a contaminant study to establish baseline mercury and heavy metals concentrations in the soil, water, and traditionally harvested fish, and a community-based fish habitat restoration and education project in the Caniapiscau River watershed.
In June, the interns and Water First staff started the contaminant study, completing the sampling on Lac Vacher and the Iron Arm portion of Attikamagen Lake. In July, five large brook trout spawning shoals were constructed on Little Barry Lake. The sites were chosen through consultation with community elders, a restoration biologist, and Water First staff. In August, consulting biologist Richard Rowe of FRi Ecological Services joined the interns and Water First staff to perform a lake trout population assessment on the Iron Arm portion of Attikamagen Lake.
Watch for more updates this fall as the interns complete the sampling of Lac Astray and another bay of Attikamagen Lake for the contaminant study, and determine future fish habitat restoration sites.
A paws-itive tree plant at Wahgoshig First Nation
Water First returned to Joseph H. Kennedy Public School in the summer of 2019 for more water science workshops and another watershed remediation project. However, when the students arrived at the chosen tree-planting location, the Water First truck was stuck on a muddy road somewhere else.
Without any tree planting supplies, everyone put their heads together to ensure the day would still go on. To keep the kids busy, an Elder from the community ran traditional activities with the students. Meanwhile, some of the staff began a rescue mission to retrieve the tree planting supplies. With the help of many community members, the tree planting supplies, truck and trailer were freed from the mud!
Despite having shovels, some of the students wanted to maximize the number of trees they planted by recruiting extra help: the neighbourhood dogs. The dogs dug holes on command and students planted the seedlings.
Altogether, a total of 800 trees were planted. The tree plant could not have been such a success without the problem solving and collaboration of everyone involved!
On July 25th, Water First took part in a public screening of Patagonia’s newest documentary, Artifishal, at the Station on the Green in Creemore.
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The event was well attended by both the general public and local water stewards, including the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) and the Nottawasaga Steelheaders. Patagonia and the NVCA are currently working together to protect native trout habitat at the headwaters of the Nottawasaga River.
Artifishal is a film about the demise of wild salmon around the world, and “the high cost—environmental, financial and cultural—of hatcheries and fish farms, and our mistaken reliance on human-engineered solutions.” The film explores the importance of keeping wild spaces wild, and the consequences hatcheries and fish farms have had on human and natural communities that have always relied on the salmon. The film showed both the strength and fragility of nature and the human-nature relationship through salmon over time. It also illustrated that unless something changes very soon, the current practice of industrialized fish farming will cause the complete collapse of wild salmon worldwide.
Salmon and steelhead are keystone species to indicate the health of watersheds because they require cool, clean water to live. The Great Lakes are home to wild populations of West Coast salmon and steelhead, and the Nottawasaga River is an important spawning ground for both species. Our local watershed needs our protection. The NVCA hosts several days each year working with volunteer groups like the Nottawasaga Steelheaders to restore habitat integral to the health of the river.