Nursing instructor part of 2019 Rivershed Fraser River journey

Originally from Williams Lake, Bhavna Pooni hopes to raise awareness of the river

As she prepares to embark on this year’s Rivershed Society of British Columbia’s trip down the Fraser River, Bhavna Pooni expects it to be a trip of a lifetime.

“For me the cup is never half empty or half full, I’m just happy I have a cup,” Pooni said. “Some people will say the grass is greener on the other side. It doesn’t matter if the grass is on the other side if you have the seeds in your hand and you are planting them.”

Born and raised in Williams Lake with her parents Jackie and Charlie Pooni, the 34-year-old has been teaching perioperative nursing at Saskatchewan Polytechnic the last five years and working casual in the trauma centre at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon.

She’s also the president of the Saskatchewan periOperative Registered Nurses’ Group.

Growing up she played soccer, basketball and volleyball and was the top female athlete in Grade 7 at Marie Sharpe and Williams Lake Secondary School in Grade 12.

“I was scouted to play soccer at Okanagan University College and went there for two years.”

Eventually she graduated in nursing from Langara College, worked in Vancouver as a student nurse, in Williams Lake in public health and at Cariboo Memorial Hospital in the operating room.

She has the summers off because she’s a teacher and she always returns to Williams Lake for holidays.

When she arrived home last week she learned from Oliver Berger there was an open spot on the Sustainable Living Leadership Program, and signed up.

Berger has participated on the river trip before and now mentors in the program.

Read more: Williams Lake pair to immerse themselves in challenges facing Fraser River

She also teachers yoga in Williams Lake and has decided her sustainability project for the journey will be to provide awareness of the Fraser River, the river’s connection to Williams Lake, and tie that into yoga.

“I see cultural appropriation in yoga. I went into a yoga studio and there was a mat on the floor that said, ‘namaste.’ People are wiping their feet on a very sacred word. It doesn’t mean ‘hello.’ So for myself there has been a lot of exploration through teaching yoga as to who I am.”

Another area she volunteers in is with language circles to help newcomers feel more comfortable about speaking English and help them integrate in Saskatoon.

Describing her adventurous side, Pooni said she runs ultramarathons which are 50 kilometres and over.

She’s done three —Reckless Raven in Whitehorse, Yukon that was 80 km, Trailstoke Mountain Marathon in Revelstoke that was 60 km, and she ran a half-marathon in the winter when it was -35C.

“I love hiking, I haven’t owned a car for three years. I live downtown and walk everywhere. I think it’s important to set an example by who you are and how you live your life.”

Her adventure will begin on Friday, July 19 at Robson Shadows Campground near Mount Robson Provincial Park and ends on Friday, Aug. 16 at the Jericho Sailing Centre in Vancouver.

They will stop in Williams Lake on Thursday, Aug. 1 spending the night and depart on Friday, Aug. 2 to continue the journey.

During the 29-day adventure she will be writing a letter everyday to retired teacher Ross McCoubrey, something she said she is really looking forward to.

She knows how to swim, but said being on the water extensively will be a new experience.

Read more: COLUMNS: Provincial land use planning through the Fraser Watershed Initiative

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