Reflections on helping train water monitors across Canada

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Program assistant Heather Shaw (right) with STREAM program manager Raegan Mallinson (left) at the STREAM-CABIN training in Rocky Mountain House, AB in July.

By Heather Shaw, LLC Program Assistant

As I sit in the North Peace Regional Airport in Fort St. John, I have time to reflect on my summer working with Living Lakes Canada, and I can’t believe how quickly it flew by. 

I just completed my last CABIN training course for the season with participants from the Blueberry First Nations, near Fort St. John in B.C. Throughout my season I have assisted in CABIN training courses in Rocky Mountain House (AB), Kenora (ON), Longlac (ON), and as mentioned above, Fort St. John. 

Through these courses, I had the opportunity to meet some amazing people, and learned about the different issues that Indigenous communities are facing in regards to their water. Some of them are facing serious side effects of too much mercury in their water, and others are trying to protect their watersheds from open pit mining. It was eye opening for me to see that even in a “progressive” country such as Canada, there are still many minority groups without clean drinking water, and Indigenous communities that are continuing to have to fight to protect their traditional territories. 

The CABIN courses I’ve been helping deliver provide communities with the tools necessary to begin collecting baseline data so they can track changes at their chosen monitoring sites over time. Because CABIN is a nationally accepted protocol, this means there is more weight behind the data, which is beneficial for communities that may have to provide their data in court. For me, the most rewarding part of teaching the CABIN courses was feeling that I was contributing to the empowerment of communities to take action into their own hands when it comes to protecting their watersheds. 

I have really enjoyed my time working with the Living Lakes Canada team, and all the participants of the CABIN courses. I look forward to seeing what opportunities there may be next summer in continuing to support Living Lakes Canada’s water stewardship and water monitoring work.

Heather Shaw joined LLC as a program assistant for the 2021 STREAM-CABIN field season.


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