Local youth learn water monitoring and awareness

Kayla Harrison, Program Coordinator with Living Lakes Canada, explained the results of the river water pH test to Andre Nicholas, one of the aqam Carers in the Training. LLC photo

A group of aq̓am youths and Kimberley lgained new knowledge and skills in a special Earth Day training event hosted by Living Lakes Canada last month.

The event, entitled Earth Day Watershed Discovery, brought together members of the Kimberley Youth Action Network (KIAN) and the Wali aq̓am Training program for two days for guidance on water monitoring and watershed awareness.

Youth attending the first day followed suit as Living Lakes Canada team members Camille LeBlanc and Kayla Harris introduced basic water monitoring principles and practices. Groups learn about common threats to watersheds and potential safety hazards to be aware of when conducting water monitoring. They are taught how to draw location drawings, identify different types of wetlands, and how aquifers work.

The young participants also gained hands-on experience in using dissolved oxygen and turbidity meters as well as in checking water conductivity and pH levels.

“I really like learning to draw sites and [water] testing is interesting!” said Holly Gale, one of the KYA participants.

On the second day of the event, the groups strengthened their new skills through knowledge sharing, by explaining what they had learned to those who were not present the day before. They also helped Living Lakes Canada coaches set up a simple water monitoring system in Cherry Creek where youths would track water levels and temperatures during spring, summer, and fall.

“My favorite parts are using the equipment, being in the sun, talking about the wetlands and learning new things,” said KYA participant Sarah Metzler.

After learning ends each day, young participants have the opportunity to reflect on their Earth Day activities as a group while enjoying a delicious meal of deer burgers, salads and fried buns by the outdoor fireplace. Dinner was hosted by Bonnie Harvey, coordinator of the Guardians Training program and prepared by her partner Randy.

“This weekend has been amazing, my heart is full,” said Bonnie, who spoke to the group about the Indigenous relationship with fresh water and shared her knowledge of Ktunaxa’s words and the stories behind them — including wuʔu / napituk (water), K̓ustit̓ (Larch /tamarack), akⱡumak (Aspen, Cottonwood, Black cottonwood), xa xa (crow) and akǂaxwiy (valley/uphill).

Kimberley Youth Action Network participants sketched images of water sampling sites as part of a pre-monitoring procedure described by members of the Living Lakes Canada team. LLC photo

“I think what’s special, apart from the fact that we’re learning a lot about the importance of monitoring and protecting our water, is the fact that a lot of young people of all ages and classes have come together and they’ve all expressed how important water in the environment is to them,” said Lori Joe. , KYA Coordinator. “It makes me feel really good this Earth Day!”

To learn more about Living Lakes Canada, visit www.livinglakescanada.ca. Contact Bonnie Harvey at [email protected] for information about the Guardians in Training program, and to join KYA on Facebook, search for ‘​Kimberley Youth Action Network’.

Main image: Pieta Bell, 11, of the Kimberley Youth Action Network uses a handheld conductivity meter to assess the conductivity level of water in local streams. Canada Living Lake Photos

Canada’s Living Lake