AWN at the Wəlastəkw / Saint-Jean / Saint John River Summit
This September, Atlantic Water Network had an exciting opportunity to visit the beautiful Kennebecasis River for the annual Wəlastəkw / Saint-Jean / Saint John River Summit, hosted by the Kennebecasis Watershed Restoration Committee (KWRC) and World Wildlife Fund Canada. The two-day summit connected communities of water enthusiasts from all over New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada through trips into the field and opportunities to learn from each other.
To kick off the summit, we visited just a few of the many restoration sites that the KWRC has worked on over the years. It was incredible to see how the knowledge, care, and hard work by the KWRC can turn a degraded stream bank into a thriving ecosystem. Through a number of techniques ranging from bioengineering with native species to livestock fence installation, the KWRC has ensured that these streams and rivers are healthy for not only landowners but for the plants and animals that live in and around their waterways. Judging by our glimpse into the work that the KWRC is doing in their community, it is safe to say that the Kennebecasis River is in good hands. After the restoration site visits, we were treated to an afternoon of exploring the Kennebecasis River by canoe. As we traversed the river and surrounding creeks, we shared stories and knowledge from our own experiences. After spending time in the bright September sun surrounded by silver maple trees and stalks of wild rice, we were fully rejuvenated and eager to take on day two of the summit.
The second day of the summit brought presentations from groups throughout the Wəlastəkw watershed. We learned about a variety of topics ranging from ACAP Saint John’s seal mapping efforts in the Saint John harbour, to the Nashwaak Watershed Association’s work to improve culverts and provide aquatic connectivity, to the Atlantic Salmon Federation’s observations over years of tracking salmon spawn rates and suggestions for how to bring back salmon populations in our waterways. It was great to see so many community initiatives taking place in the watershed.
Not only was the summit a wonderful way to see what different watershed groups have been working on, it provided space for networking and community-building between groups. One of the main themes in conversation over the two days was how important it is to have a space for groups to communicate so that they can learn from each other. Each group has a unique perspective and unique tools they can bring to the table. With a willingness to share these tools among the larger water community, groups can have an even bigger impact without having to start from scratch. It’s events like the Wəlastəkw / Saint-Jean / Saint John River Summit that make this possible. As the year goes on, I’m excited to work closely with these incredible watershed groups on their water monitoring programs, from data collection to analysis and beyond. I can’t wait to see the work they will do to improve water quality in their communities!
By Laura Chandler