Local youth learn water monitoring and awareness

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Kayla Harris, Program Coordinator with Living Lakes Canada, describes the results of a stream water pH test to Andre Nicholas, one of ʔaq̓am’s Guardians in Training. LLC Photo

A group of ʔaq̓am and Kimberley youth learned new knowledge and skills in a special Earth Day training event held by Living Lakes Canada last month. 

This event, titled Earth Day Watershed Discovery, brought together members of the Kimberley Youth Action Network (KYAN) and ʔaq̓am‘s Guardians in Training program for two days of water monitoring mentorship and watershed awareness.

The teens who attended the first day followed along as Living Lakes Canada team members Camille LeBlanc and Kayla Harris introduced basic water monitoring principles and practices. The group learned about common threats to watersheds and potential safety hazards to watch out for when conducting  water monitoring. They were taught how to create site drawings, identify different wetland types, and how aquifers work. The young participants also got hands-on experience in using dissolved oxygen and turbidity meters as well as in checking water conductivity and pH levels.

“I really liked learning to do site drawings and [water] testing was interesting!” said Holly Gale, one of the KYAN participants.

On the second day of the event, the group strengthened their new skills through knowledge-sharing, by explaining what they had learned with those who were not in attendance the day before. They also helped the Living Lakes Canada trainers set up a simple water monitoring system at Cherry Creek where the youth will keep track of water levels and temperatures over the spring, summer, and fall.

“My favourite part was using the equipment, being in the sun, talking about wetlands and learning new things,” said KYAN participant Sarah Metzler.

After the learning had concluded on each of the days, the young participants had the opportunity to reflect on their Earth Day activities as a group while enjoying a lovely meal of delicious elk burgers, salads, and fry bread next to an outdoor fire. The dinner was hosted by Bonnie Harvey, Coordinator for ʔaq̓am‘s Guardians in Training program and prepared by her partner Randy.

“This weekend was so awesome, my heart is full,” said Bonnie, who spoke to the group about Indigenous relationships with freshwater and shared her knowledge of Ktunaxa words and the stories behind them — including wuʔu / napituk (water), K̓ustit̓ (Larch/tamarack), ʔakⱡumak (Aspen, Cottonwood, Black cottonwood), xa xa (crow) and ʔakǂaxwiy (valley/uphill). 

“I think the special thing, besides the fact that we’re learning so much about how important it is to monitor and protect our water, is the fact that a lot of these young people of different ages and grades have come together and they all expressed how important water in the environment is to them,” said Lori Joe, Coordinator for the KYAN. “It made me feel so good on this Earth Day!”

To learn more about Living Lakes Canada, visit www.livinglakescanada.ca. Contact Bonnie Harvey at Bharvey@aqam.net for information about the Guardians in Training program, and to follow KYAN on Facebook search for ‘​​Kimberley Youth Action Network’. 

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