Water researcher and community advocate Christine Mettler will be part of a team venturing down the Fraser River over the next month.
The team is part of the Sustainable Living Leadership Society, which is run by the Rivershed Society, and they will be travelling from the Fraser River’s headwaters in Mount Robson to the ocean, some 1,400 kilometres away. The team will be travelling by canoe, shuttle wagon and rafting, all depending on how treacherous the water is. The journey will take them from July 16th to August 9th, and they will be experiencing how the ecosystem operates.
“You can go into a classroom and learn about this stuff and understand it intellectually, but it’s another thing entirely to live that experience and be on the water and really understand how that ecosystem operates,” Mettler explained. “To be on the water is a much different experience, so we’ll learn about different issues currently facing BC, sustainable living, environmental economics and experience it as we camp and make our way down the river.”
Mettler moved from Ontario to Kelowna in September, and has had several day-long hiking and canoe trips in Ontario and on Vancouver Island before, but never anything on this scale. She explains what it was that drew her to the program.
“I’m really interested in connecting people to watersheds through their environment, making that really visible and thinking about how their own actions in their everyday lives impacts water and ultimately ourselves,” Mettler described. “I think this program really does that because it connects people to water, and I’m hoping I can learn a lot of skills I can bring back to the community to keep mobilizing knowledge and engaging people and making people more aware.”
One of the requirements to be a member of the team was to have a community action component once they return from the journey. Mettler describes hers as a community exhibition on the social life of water, which will include a multimedia presentation on how people in the Okanagan have shaped and altered water, and how we engage and use it.
Mettler’s goal is to have people think about how we use water, and what it would mean to use it sustainably. She added water issues are particularly pressing this year due to the drought throughout southern BC.
For more information on the Sustainable Living Leadership Program, visit rivershed.com/get-involved/sustainable-living-leadership-program/about-the-sllp/.