Participants in the Rivershed Society of B.C.’s (RSBC) annual Sustainable Living Leadership Program journey down the Fraser River stopped in Williams Lake en route, camping where the Williams Lake River empties into the Fraser.
The group departed July 19 from Tete Jaune by voyageur canoe after spending three days preparing at Mt. Robson Shadows Campground.
“This year we have seven participants with local people hopping on and off as we go along,” said Fin Donnelly, NDP MP Port Moody-Coquitlam who along with Doug Radies and Jackie Lanthier are co-ordinating the trip and providing program expertise.
Orden Mack of Xat’sull who participated last year is a facilitator-in-training this year, Donnelly said.
After canoeing for three days, they shuttled to Quesnel and then travelled by raft to Xat’sull.
Rafting will be their mode of transportation until Hope where they will re-enter the canoe until they reach the ocean on Aug. 9.
Participant Christine Mettler of Kelowna is an independent social environmental researcher who moved from Ontario to B.C. in September 2014.
“It’s been pretty incredible,” Mettler said of the trip so far. “The Fraser’s headwaters are amazing, so jade green. We’ve seen many landscapes and ecosystems.”
Other participants come from Kelowna, Lillooet, Vancouver, Surrey, West Vancouver, Gibsons and Maple Ridge. Each participant pitches a sustainability project to be eligible for the trip.
Donnelly, who first swam the Fraser River in 1995 and started RSBC the following year, said each year the trip focuses on engaging with locals.
“I hate to use the cliche, but it really is the trip of a life time because the participants see all sorts of things,” he said.
Along the way the group has visited farms, attended a pow wow, met with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and in Williams Lake toured the Potato House and enjoyed a potluck dinner at the Scout Island Nature Centre.
At the Potato House director Mary Forbes told participants she was on the river trip in 2010 and the Potato House was her sustainability project.
“We bought the house after the trip,” Forbes said. “A silent funder bought it for us and we are paying them back.”
Five years later there’s a community garden and compost, established by Marin Patenaude who was on the river journey in 2013. Next year the society will start renovations on the house, Forbes said.
“And we plan to co-operate with the Shuswap to grow traditional plants here as well,” she added.
Donnelly said the Fraser River is low, very warm and not in good condition for salmon.
“At some points the temperature is 21C,” he added.