Tribune Staff Writer
In a 25 day journey, Horsefly resident Marin Patenaude and seven other participants are travelling 1,375 km down the length of the Fraser River as part of the Rivershed Society of BC’s Sustainable Living Leadership Program.
The participants are canoeing, rafting, hiking and busing from the headwaters of the Fraser River down to its mouth in Vancouver in order to learn about stewardship, watersheds, salmon and above all, sustainability.
During the trip, aside from the travels and other topics, the participants are working to develop their own unique sustainability projects.
Patenaude’s personal project will be developing a compilation CD related to the Fraser watershed.
“I originally approached the Rivershed Society to develop and commission a bunch of local artists to write songs about the Fraser River, or songs about the salmon or the watershed in general or environmentalism,” she said.
Patenaude, who is the executive director of the Williams Lake Potato house, said that proceeds from her CD will go towards the Potato House.
Mary Forbes, the president of the Potato House Sustainable Community Society, attended the leadership program in 2010.
From it, she developed her plan to start the Potato House project in order to create awareness about sustainability.
Patenaude’s project is built to complement the Potato House and Forbe’s vision.
She hopes the trip will allow her to network and organize her plans for the project, including figuring out how to fund the CD, so that she will be able to come back to to community and implement her ideas.
On top of preparing her project, Patenaude is excited to travel the entire Fraser River.
“I’ve never done anything like that,” she said.
The participants, alongside their facilitators will be attending Cultural Day Celebrations at the Xat’sull Heritage Village, a Fisheries and Oceans Canada juvenile fish net demonstration at Sheep Creek Bridge as well as the Salmon in the Canyon Festival in Cayoosh Creek.
Patenaude is also looking forward to the long expanses of river with no one around.
“I am just so excited to be around those parts of the world that have absolutely zero access and are fairly untouched,” she said. As a self-declared “animal person” she will be looking out especially for the wildlife and animal habitats.
As well, the main focus of the program, sustainability, is a subject close to Patenaude’s heart.
“We think and behave as though the world is impervious to our effects. Which it is not. It’s actually extremely sensitive to it, and I don’t think that’s recognized enough,” she said.
As part of her job at the Potato House, Patenaude has developed the community composting project, which is now up and running. She encourages downtown businesses and those nearby to drop their composting off at the Potato House.
She also hopes to develop the house into a sustainable education centre in the hopes of raising awareness about sustainability.
“If there is a passion and a love for the land, then we’ll be more predisposed to take care of it,” she said
“As long as I can inspire people, that’s my job done.”
Patenaude’s journey down the Fraser started today, Thursday, Aug. 1 and will conclude on Aug. 25, after which she will return to the lakecity and begin work on her project.
The Rivershed Society was founded by Fin Donnelly in 1996 in the wake of his Swim for Life down the length of the Fraser River. The organization is dedicated to improving the health of both the Fraser River Basin and all those who live within the Basin.
More information about the 2013 Sustainable Living Leadership Program and their itinerary can be found at www.rivershed.com.