JOB OPPORTUNITY: Full-time Water Literacy Coordinator

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper in partnership with Swim Drink Fish Canada is seeking a Water Literacy coordinator for a full-time contract to help develop and launch a water awareness and community engagement program in Edmonton.

This position is a perfect opportunity for someone passionate about protecting Edmonton-area waters and eager to engage with the community. We are looking for a motivated individual with knowledge of basic water literacy concepts (watershed, drinking water quality, swimming and boat access locations, plants and animals in the watershed, etc.) and excellent communications skills.

The Water Literacy Coordinator will work with the Swim Drink Fish Canada teams (based in Toronto and Vancouver) to develop and deliver online and in-person educational messages, presentations and resources that will help Edmonton-area residents better understand the watershed they live in. Ultimately, the Coordinator will help to inspire thousands of people in the Edmonton area to become stewards of swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters.

Responsibilities and Project Timeline

You will oversee the organization’s main program on a full-time basis, including:

In Stage 1 (April – mid-May), the Coordinator will familiarize themselves with all swimming and recreational water access points in the Saskatchewan River watershed and update Swim Guide locations and monitoring information for the 2017 summer season (www.theswimguide.org). The Coordinator will also identify key recreational water access points in Edmonton and establish a water quality monitoring program to test for bacteria pollution.

In Stage 2 (mid-May – June), the Coordinator will launch the water quality sampling program and begin regular Swim Guide updates as regions come online for the summer. The Coordinator will develop a water literacy presentation that describes the Saskatchewan River watershed, its environmental and social history, its current uses, its ecological health, and current issues of interest to the public. Using available resources, the Coordinator will familiarize themselves with the swimmability, drinkability, and fishability of the region. By this stage, the Coordinator will begin collecting Watermark stories from members of the community (www.watermarkproject.ca).

In Stage 3 (July – August), the Coordinator will manage the water quality monitoring program, recruit volunteers to assist as necessary, and build the collection of Watermark stories in the Edmonton community. During this stage, the Coordinator will begin booking water literacy presentations for the fall. Most presentations will be geared towards youth in the Edmonton area.

In Stage 4 (September – March), the Water Literacy Coordinator will engage the community in water literacy activities and build Watermark collections that document knowledge and perspectives in the community.

In Stage 5, the Coordinator will report on the project’s impact and develop a strategy and recommendations for the next phase of the project.

Throughout the project, the Water Literacy Coordinator will be responsible for curating and publishing Watermarks to the Watermark Project website (http://www.watermarkproject.ca), managing North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper’s social media presence, blogging regularly, sending email updates to Riverkeeper’s subscriber list, reporting on project impact to the Board of Directors and to the project funds (RBC and TELUS), and helping to secure additional grant and individual donor support for water literacy work in Edmonton.

Required skills and experience

  • A strong understanding of Alberta’s ecosystems with an emphasis on the Saskatchewan River (knowledge of other major Canadian watersheds is also an asset)
  • Enjoy spending time on the water and be able to act as an ambassador for an active, water-friendly lifestyle
  • Be familiar with WordPress, know how to post and edit content
  • Have some experience engaging the community through social media
  • Be detail-oriented, able to organize information and content
  • Have strong professional communications skills, capable of handling outreach to school organizations, media, board members, and other constituents
  • Familiarity with database systems such as Salesforce is desired, but not required
  • Be able to write effective emails and briefing notes for board and funders
  • Have a background in education or experience leading small groups/ teams
  • Have at least one year’s work experience in a nonprofit or educational setting
  • Bi-lingual preferred, but not required

Position Details

This is a full-time, contract position in Edmonton. The position is open now, and applications will be reviewed as they arrive.

Please send a cover letter ASAP to:
Krystyn Tully
℅ admin@waterkeeper.ca

In your cover letter, please state clearly why you believe you are a great candidate for this position and why you want to work for Swim Drink Fish Canada. Note: Cover letters are very important to us.

About Us

Founded in 2009, North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper’s mission is to restore, preserve, and protect the quality and biodiversity of our watershed through actions that inform and connect our community with the North Saskatchewan River. For more information, visit: http://saskriverkeeper.ca/.

Founded in 2001, Swim Drink Fish Canada is a growing charity working for a swimmable, drinkable, fishable future. Our programs bring together law, science, culture, and digital media in order to connect and empower people to restore polluted places, protect human health, and promote thriving natural spaces. For more information, visit: www.theswimguide.org and www.watermarkproject.ca.

Creeks and Peaks: A Bow River Watermark with Ngaio Hotte

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

 

Ngaio Hotte is a writer, resource economist and facilitator based in Vancouver, BC.

Over the summer of 2015, Ngaio embarked on a journey to cross the Canadian Prairies by canoe with her partner, Harry. This journey gave them a chance to witness incredible parts of our country and to learn new things about one another that they would carry into their marriage. It symbolized the beginning of a commitment to experiencing the world and learn together.

Here Ngaio shares her Watermark about a harrowing experience on the Bow River that, despite costing them their canoe and gear, failed to quash their spirit of adventure…

 

During the summer of 2015, my partner and I pursued a dream to travel across the Canadian Prairies by canoe. Our journey began on the outskirts of Lake Louise, near the headwaters of the Bow River, and finished near Brandon, Manitoba.. This journey gave us the chance to witness and experience incredible parts of Canada’s landscapes and waterways, and to learn new things about one another. It symbolized the beginning of a commitment to experiencing the world and learning together. The following is an excerpt from my accounts of our journey. The full highlights of this trip are captured on our travel blog, creeksandpeaks.com.

We knew when we started this trip that there would be highs and lows, but we never expected that they would come so early on. What a roller coaster this week has been.

We first put our paddles in the water at Lake Louise just over a week ago. From there, we had a leisurely float down the Bow River past Castle Junction to Johnston Creek canoe campground, then on to Banff the following day. The Banff townsite materialized suddenly, as if out of nowhere in the middle of the mountains. Our first portage of the trip, around Bow Falls, went smoothly, despite one of our water jugs rolling into the river and another being stolen from beside the pathway. From our map, we had expected to find a campground on the outskirts of town, but when we saw none we decided to paddle on to Bow River Campground just past Canmore. We followed the river along below the Three Sisters and Ha Ling Peak, illuminated in the twilight, and arrived at the campground just as night began to fall. The campground was full, but a friendly couple allowed us to squat on the edge of their site for the night.

We awoke the next morning expecting that our day would be occupied by a long, painful portage around the Bearspaw, Kananaskis and Horseshoe Dams. Fate had other plans.

We put into the water after a lazy breakfast and floated along, reaching a fork in the river about a kilometer downstream from the campsite. We agreed that the right side of the fork looked like the correct route to follow. We swung around toward the outside of the fork to avoid a fallen tree in the river; what we didn’t notice was that the current was carrying us toward another tree jutting out from the left side of the riverbank.

We paddled hard to avoid it, but not hard enough. The tree caught Harry in the stomach and stopped the boat dead. Realizing we were in trouble, Harry tipped backward out of the canoe, hoping that would free it. It didn’t.

The canoe had become trapped on another branch. Harry watched helplessly from the water as the boat slowly listed to one side and flipped over, dumping Abby, our dog, and I into the frigid water.

I bobbed to the surface and looked around for Abby, but couldn’t see her. I quickly realized that she must be trapped under the boat. Screaming to Harry, I frantically tried to grab the bow of the boat and drag it toward shore, but the boat was heavy and the current was strong. Harry, much taller than I, swam underneath the boat and found that he could reach the river bottom. Grabbing the gunnel of canoe, he pushed up hard and managed to flip the boat right-side up.

I watched Abby bob out from beneath the boat, looking scared but unhurt. Knowing that we needed to regain control of the canoe, I pushed myself up out of the water and back into the heeavy boat. That I was able to do this from the side, without the canoe tipping, speaks to how heavy the canoe was when fully loaded with our gear. Once in the canoe, however, I could see that our situation was about to become much worse: ahead of us was a large log jam, stretching most of the way across the river.

Seeing that Abby was unable to climb up out of the water on her own, Harry hoised her up onto a nearby log before swimming back toward me and the canoe. I tried to paddle away from the logs, but it was no use. Once again, the canoe became trapped against a log. This time, however, water began to rush in over the sides. As the canoe swamped, I fell out again and was carried downstream toward another part of the log jam. I remembered the advice I had learned about log jams during my training as a raft guide: approach feet first and then push yourself up and on top of the logs. Fortunately, I avoided any sharp branches and climbed out of the water unhurt. Harry was washed up onto the other side of the same log jam. Quickly but cautiously, we began removing what gear we could from the canoe and lifting it to safety on logs while the water rushed through the branches below. Once we had salvaged everything we could, Harry worked on trying to dislodge the canoe. With the current pushing hard against it, there was little he could do.

Once we realized that Harry would not be able to get the canoe unstuck on his own, we decided to call for help. We were trapped in the middle of the river, with freezing cold water flooding through the trees all around us. Luckily, the dry bag with our valuables, including my cell phone, had been accessible and we had strong cellular reception. I phoned 911 and was patched through to the dispatcher in Canmore, who contacted Alberta Public Safety in Kananaskis. Again, we were lucky, because we were able to change into dry clothes and keep warm while we waited. The rescue boat arrived in less than 30 minutes and plucked us all out of the dangerous situation.

We lost our canoe, tent and gear barrel, but we were lucky to make it out alive. We spent the next several days staying with friends in Calgary while we worked with locals, guides from Canadian Rockies Rafting and Canmore Fire Rescue to see if any more of our gear could be retrieved. Several people went out to the log jam but the water was still too high to get close enough to the canoe.

When we finally accepted that it could be a very long time before we got our canoe and the rest of our gear back, if ever, we began to collect borrowed and donated gear from some of the many people who offered to help us out. I started out feeling pretty low as we began the re-grouping effort. After all, this trip has been my dream for many years: this is not the way I had envisioned it unfolding. But as we met up with one person after another, their encouragement began to lift my spirits.

Finally, the night before we were scheduled to get back on the river, we made a trip to Mountain Equipment Co-op for some supplies. As I stood in the emergency supplies section, I looked up at a fellow who was entering the checkout line and was stuck with amazement: there, in front of me, stood my canoeing idol, Karsten Heuer. Karsten and his wife, Leanne Allison, made a documentary about their own canoe trip across Canada, which retraced the footsteps of Canadian author Farley Mowat. That he would appear before me the night before we restart our journey after a major setback was nothing short of incredible.

I told Karsten the story of our journey and our accident. He was familiar with the stretch of river where it had happened and supportive of our continuing. I wrote down his email address and promised to send him updates.

Yesterday, nearly a week after the accident, we made it back onto the river. We were all still a bit shaken, but nevertheless eager to continue on our journey. Geoff MacDonald, who completed his own journey across Canada by canoe with his wife Pam just two years ago, loaned us his canoe and saw us off at the river. It was a fitting end to our week: to begin our journey anew with the support and well wishes of other dedicated Canadian paddlers.

 

Click Here to check out Ngaio’s story on the Watermark Archive or learn more about Ngaio & Harry’s canoe trip across the prairies by visiting https://creeksandpeaks.com/  

 

Introducing North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper’s Swim Drink Fish Ambassadors!

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

 

The Waterkeeper Gala in Toronto on Thursday, April 21st, is just one week away!

This year’s Gala will introduce 12 Swim Drink Fish Ambassadors from across Canada. These are individuals who have demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to creating a future where every Canadian can swim, drink, and fish. They are leaders who are promoting water literacy and watershed awareness, kick-starting education and protection programs, and building a strong “Swim Drink Fish Community.”

North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper is proud to have three of our wonderful directors included in this inspiring group of water leaders! Meet our Swim Drink Fish Ambassadors…

 

Karen Percy Lowe

KarenLoweKaren is a former Canadian alpine skier. She won 2 bronze medals in skiing at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, where she was Canada’s flag bearer in the closing ceremony. Karen is married to former Edmonton Oilers player and current Director of Hockey for the Edmonton Oilers, Kevin Lowe. Born and raised near the Bow River in Banff and travelling the world as an Olympic and professional downhill skier, Karen has always felt a connection with water and interest in global water issues. As a result of this growing concern and interest in clean water for communities everywhere, Karen wanted to bring her passion to her watersheds in Alberta. Karen is the co-founder and President of North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper.

Kevin Lowe

KevinLoweKevin Lowe is a retired defenceman and coach in the National Hockey League and the current President of Hockey Operations for the Edmonton Oilers. As a defenceman, he played for the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Rangers. Kevin is a long-time supporter for swimmable, drinkable, fishable water and Waterkeeper-work. Kevin’s interest in clean water and water issues grew out of his original bond with the Shuswap Lake. The responsibility of stewardship of this lake and the other waters began with him learning more about everyday practices which can harm lake water quality. Today, he is a Director for the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper.

 

Britt Standen

BrittStandenBorn and raised in Edmonton, Britt Standen is the President and owner of Physique Fitness Stores. For the past 5 years, Britt has attended and supported the Waterkeeper Alliance fundraiser in Banff and Lake Louise. Living on the river banks of the North Saskatchewan River for the past 30 years it was a natural progression to “walk the talk” and she along with Karen Percy Lowe co-founded the Saskatchewan Riverkeeper group. She is currently the Vice President and Treasurer of the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper.

 

 

Click here to meet the other Swim Drink Fish Ambassadors and learn more about the Waterkeeper Gala!

 

Happy World Water Day 2016!

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Join us in celebrating World Water Day at North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper and learn more about how you can become a Canadian Water Leader!

What is World Water Day?

World Water Day is an international observance and an opportunity to learn more about water related issues, be inspired to tell others and take action to make a difference. World Water Day dates back to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development where an international observance for water was recommended. The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. It has been held annually since then. Each year, UN-Water — the entity that coordinates the UN’s work on water and sanitation — sets a theme for World Water Day corresponding to a current or future challenge. The engagement campaign is coordinated by one or several of the UN-Water Members with a related mandate.

Better Water, Better Jobs

Today, almost half of the world’s workers – 1.5 billion people – work in water related sectors and nearly all jobs depend on water and those that ensure its safe delivery. Yet the millions of people who work in water are often not recognized or protected by basic labour rights. The theme in 2016 — water and jobs — is focusing on how enough quantity and quality of water can change workers’ lives and livelihoods – and even transform societies and economies. (Source: http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/about)

Become a Canadian Water Leader

With roughly 20% of the world’s freshwater found in Canada, it’s critical that Canadians do our part to safeguard this precious resource for future generations; it’s critical that we all become Water Leaders in our communities. But how do we do it?

The first step is to discover your Watermark, that powerful memory of a lived experience that’s shaped your personal connection to water; that defines what water means to you.

The next step is to become educated about your local watershed; learn where your drinking water comes from, what fish and wildlife share it with you.

Once you’ve learned a bit more about your watershed, get out there and experience it! Jump in, take a swim, go for a paddle, get your fishing line wet and maybe catch some dinner! Make some memories on the water with your family and inspire the younger members to get involved too.

If you’re going to defend your watershed, you’re going to need to know the rules: educate yourself on the laws and regulations that protect fish and water in your community. Participate in local decision making to make sure that your voice is heard.

Finally, take an active role in protecting your watershed. Volunteer at a local cleanup or fundraising event, donate to a local organization that defends fish and water, devote your time on a board of directors or found a non-profit of your own.

We all have what it takes to be a Water Leader. Take the first step and discover your Watermark today!

You can also download this cool infographic outlining the six qualities of a Water Leader created by our amazing friends at Waterkeeper.

 

6qualitesofwaterleader

Watermark with Krystyn Tully

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

My North Saskatchewan River watermark dates back to 2009. This was around the time Karen and Kevin Lowe, Mark Mattson, and Britt Standen were starting the Riverkeeper organization, based in Edmonton.

I had been asked to join the board of directors for North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper. I’m guessing it had more to do with my experience as a co-founder of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper than my knowledge of the river. I didn’t know as much then about the North Saskatchewan River, or Alberta water issues for that matter!

Britt Standen, one of my fellow directors, has a son named Max. At the time, I don’t think he was even old enough to drive a car, but he was really into aircraft and flying. The Standens had a friend with a small helicopter who was willing to take a couple of the Riverkeeper folks up for a 45 minute tour. He promised to give us an aerial view of both Edmonton and the river that flows through it.

I’d never been in a helicopter before. I thought it would be enormous, but it was sleek and relatively small – almost like a mechanical dragonfly. I sat in the back, away from the domed window in front. I had a side window to myself, with an incredible view of the landscape below as we cruised above the North Saskatchewan River.

What immediately struck me as I looked down at the shining river snaking through Edmonton was how completely different this was from Toronto, where I live and work. Toronto sits on the edge of Lake Ontario, but access to the waterfront is extremely limited, either cut off by the 401 and the Gardiner Expressway or dominated by urban development projects. Here, the city looks as though it has been woven around the river; incorporating wonderful green spaces at almost every bend along its course.

The parkland serves a practical purpose. It is a tool for mitigating the damage caused by seasonal flooding. But the presence of all this green space along the river’s edge meant that people here enjoyed more free and easy access to the riverfront than I did my own waterfront in Toronto. The psychological barriers that I was used to didn’t separate water from city in quite the same way.

This view was the first hint of a perspective that would become clear to me on countless return visits to the city: Edmontonians take great pride in their river.

Looking down at that beautiful river and the city that wove around it, I found myself speechless. The uncharacteristic silence must have been worrying for my fellow passengers. Just before we landed, someone turned from the front. “Are you okay?” said a crackly voice over the headset.

Yes. Absolutely, yes.

 

Krystyn Tully is a director of North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper. She’s also the co-founder and Vice President of our partner Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. She oversees LOW’s many programs, staff, and volunteers working to create a swimmable, drinkable, fishable Lake Ontario. After graduating from Ryerson University with a degree in Radio and Television Arts, Krystyn worked with Mark Mattson as a researcher at the Walkerton Inquiry. She is currently working towards her second degree in Public Administration and Governance.

On behalf of LOW, Krystyn has written many comments on licenses and legislative proposals that have contributed to better decisions and environmental protections. She has appeared before the Federal Standing Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities (TRAN), and the Ontario Goverment Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs. Krystyn has also been a two-time contributer to the Great Lakes Town Hall, an international organization dedicated to identifying and addressing common issues across our shared Great Lakes. For many years, Krystyn Tully was the Lake Ontario Advisor to Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Network Fund, now Freshwater Future.

In addition to the day-to-day management of the LOW organization, Krystyn also takes the lead on several of our key ongoing issues alongside Mark. Krystyn oversees LOW’s Clean Water Workshop, a volunteer mentoring program offered to 20 law students each year.

North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper is proud to be a part of the Watermark Project! To check out Krystyn’s Watermark and learn more about the Project, visit the Watermark Project Archive.

To submit a Watermark of your own click here.

The Best and Worst Beaches of 2015

As swimmable water season comes to a close here in Alberta, North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper and Swim Guide are taking a look back at some of the best and worst beaches from the summer of 2015.

The top 5 beaches of 2015 were:

All five of these beaches remained safe for swimming throughout the entire 2015 sampling season, with zero days of unsafe swimming.

On the other end of the spectrum, 2015’s worst beaches were:

While these four beaches suffered the highest closure rates, they were far from the only ones to experience extended closures during the 2015 season. Without question, the most common cause for beach closures in Alberta this summer was contamination from blue-green algae blooms.

Blue-green algae is a cyanobacteria present in all Alberta lakes. It grows best in still or slow-moving water when the weather is warm, which is part of why we saw so many blooms during the hot and dry summer of 2015. Add nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen to the mix, and the bacteria will reproduce even more rapidly.

You can help to reduce beach closures due to blue-green algae contamination. Here are a few simple actions you can take to limit the flow of nutrients into Alberta’s streams, ponds and lakes:

  • Don’t use more lawn fertilizers than the recommended amount, and keep fertilizers out of storm drains and off driveways and sidewalks.
  • Maintain or plant native plants around shorelines and streams. Native plants don’t require fertilizers and they help filter water.
  • Properly care for and maintain your septic system.
  • Do not allow livestock to drink or defecate in streams or lakes. Don’t overfeed waterfowl.
  • Avoid clearing riparian vegetation to help prevent soil erosion.

Keeping informed about the water quality at our favourite beaches is an important step toward protecting public health and preventing the spread of waterborne illnesses. Make sure that you’re ready for 2016’s swimmable water season. Download Swim Guide today!

Sources:

Cyanobacteria / Blue-Green Algae – Facts & Information. (2015). Vermont Department of Health. Retrieved from: http://www.healthvermont.gov/enviro/bg_algae/bgalgae_fact.aspx#do

Swim Guide. (2015). http://www.theswimguide.org/

How you can be a water leader.

About a month ago, I was in Toronto’s distillery district during the Panam Games. I happened to walk through on one of the nights that Porte Parole’s Watershed Project was being exhibited.

If you haven’t heard of it, the Watershed Project is a live art installation composed of two small rooms. As you walk through the exhibit, you have the opportunity to converse with water. Water literally speaks to you – and you speak back, talking about your earliest memories of water, what it means to you, and what you will do to protect it.

 

I don’t remember my first experience with water. I can’t tell you the first time I saw the ocean, or the first time I dipped my toes in a lake. I don’t remember how I felt the first time I saw a fish while I was snorkelling or whether I even liked swimming as a small child.

 

What I can tell you, though, is that as a teenager and in my adult life, I developed a strangely protective, passionate love for water. As I grew older, I never felt more happiness and awe as I did when I looked upon the ocean. But I also never felt more anger and hurt as I did when I learned of the burden our oceans were carrying, and the lack of protection they were receiving from us.

 

It seems now that everything I do comes back to water. I’ve researched the extensive impact humans have had on fish populations, large and small, around the globe. I’ve signed petitions to ban toxic chemicals’ use in Canada. And I spread the word as much as I can about the importance of protecting Canada’s most precious resource.

 

Being a water leader – it isn’t something that will burden you. Rather, it will empower you, make you know you’re doing the right thing. All it takes is your belief that water is important to protect, and your desire to use your skills – whatever they may be – to support the life force that flows through yours, and my, veins.

Sometimes, though, it’s hard to know where to start.

…So, where do you start?

Here are a few ideas:

 

It doesn’t matter if your contribution is big or small – it’s enough that you’re making a contribution. Together, we’re a united voice for Canada’s watershed.

Sturgeon Hole Reach

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

We prepared and submitted our letter of appeal in opposition of the approved permit application for a gravel pit in the Sturgeon Hole Reach Environmentally Significant Area of Parkland County (p.198). The lake sturgeon is an amazing fish and this project is adjacent to an important North Saskatchewan River sturgeon spawning area (hence the name “Sturgeon Hole Reach”). The appeal board hearing was postponed from Dec. 2 to Jan. 19/2015. We will be presenting our appeal reasons then.