Kamloops’ seventh annual World Rivers Day celebration aimed to entertain and educate all who came to take part while also cleaning up the shoreline.
As early as 10 a.m. on Sept. 27, Riverside Park was busy with volunteers and families ready to hit the shoreline with garbage bags and gloves.
For those there to just enjoy the celebration, live music and other acts were played throughout the day while families explored the many different activities and information booths available.
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is a big part of the World Rivers Day event, and has been since 2011. Last year there were close to 80 volunteers, and 10 kg of garbage was collected.
“We found lots of broken glass and small garbage,” said Mayumi Pepper, as she and her group of mostly kids got their gloves and bags ready for cleanup. This was her second year participating in the event. She said the day is especially fun for the kids.
Every year The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup collects data from each city event to calculate the national total. In 2014, 134,000 kg of garbage was collected from 2,536 km of shoreline across Canada.
The year 2005 marked the first World Rivers Day celebrations around the world. Inspired by B.C. Rivers Day, established in 1980 by award-winning conservationist Mark Angelo from Burnaby, B.C., World Rivers Day continues to grow each year.
Internationally, World Rivers Day is meant to address specific environmental issues surrounding rivers and streams. The main areas of concern are dams and fish, endangered rivers, health and sanitation and climate change.
Environmental Educator for the City of Kamloops, Jaimi Garbutt, explained that issues such as water conservation are of concern because of the amount of energy it takes to treat the water for the community.
“This year has been particularly important, since we are in a level 4 drought situation,” Garbutt said, and also emphasized the importance of the cleanup initiative here in Kamloops.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans was also involved and presented salmon from local rivers and explained the spawning cycle to people passing by.
Gord Stewart, representing the BIG Little Science Centre at the event, said the salmon that return through the North and South Thompson Rivers are essential to the health of rivers and streams in our area. He believes this event is important for the community and has been a part of World Rivers Day for seven years now.
His background in fish habitat restoration and endangered salmon stock gives him a personal interest in the health of our rivers, which he said are in relatively good health. His current work with the BIG Little Science Centre allows him and his team the opportunity to work with local schools to educate children about the salmon and their spawning cycles.
Spawning salmon bring abundant nutrients back into the waters in the Kamloops area, which makes it critical that the rivers stay healthy and clean. Educating children and adults about the importance of our water resources and the environmental issues is an important part of that.
The World Rivers Day event was meant to both celebrate and inform those who participate in the event, and the seventh annual World Rivers Day at Riverside park did just that.