Wele’k Samqwan – A Community-Based Water Monitoring Bootcamp in the Miramichi Watershed

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Bootcamp staff and participants met on the banks of McKay Brook in Eel Ground for a full day of hands-on water monitoring training.

Atlantic Water Network and Anqotum Resource Management brought community members together on July 20, for a hands-on training opportunity to learn from community experts, neighbours and other environmental professionals. This event was part two in the water monitoring bootcamp series, Wele’k Samqwan – A Community-Based Water Monitoring Bootcamp in the Miramichi Watershed, with the first session held online in June.

The water monitoring bootcamp was designed in two sessions to ensure all participants had introductory water monitoring knowledge before entering the field. July’s training session provided participants with direct experience with key water quality monitoring equipment and methods. 

Kayla showing Aislin how to ID freshwater mussel species.

The day kicked off with participants meeting at the Anqotum office in Eel Ground, New Brunswick, only to be greeted by freshwater mussels, bugs and a group of local water experts ready to launch into a day of water monitoring basics. 

Anqotum staff Kayla Ward, Taylor Ward and Atlantic Water Network’s Laura Chandler, led morning discussions, where participants got to zoom in on aquatic bugs with a microscope, learn about identifying mussels and practice calibrating water monitoring equipment. 

After the classroom focused learning morning sessions, participants were encouraged to get their feet wet and test out their new skills in stream! The group hit the field and trekked down to McKay Brook, not far from the Anqotum office, for the hands-on training. 

Water Ceremony 

Before diving into water monitoring, Metepenagiag Elder Betty Ward performed a water ceremony . This ceremony grounded the field training by highlighting the importance of protecting the environment as well as the strong historical and present-day relationship between water, the Atlantic salmon and the Eel Ground community. Elder Betty, an avid fly fisher herself, shared her story of how community leaders fought for their fishing rights in the watershed and the importance of honouring that leadership today, by preserving our waters and protecting our aquatic species. This ceremony was truly moving and can not be fairly represented by words, however those in attendance could feel the passion and inspiration through each word spoken.

Kayla and Ethan sift through her kick net haul for aquatic insects. 

In the Field 

Following the theme of aquatic bugs from the morning session, Anqotum’s Kayla Ward gathered participants for a kicknet demo for benthic invertebrates monitoring using Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network protocols. 

Ward showed the proper kicking methods and direction of water flow to follow, but the most exciting part of the presentation was seeing what Ward found in her net afterwards. The purpose of the kick net is to collect invertebrate specimens from the bottom of a waterway and luckily, Ward’s net was full of aquatic critters. Participants joined in to identify the treasures the kicknet held, some notable finds were dragonfly and caddisfly larvae.

Although the weather was hot, participants jumped into their waders next and grabbed a YSI to test out those new water monitoring skills. Groups were asked to measure several parameters at different locations along McKay Brook and then compare their findings! 

ARM staff and summer students honed their environmental monitoring skills by completing online and in-person bootcamp trainings. From left: Katelyn Augustine, Ethan Augustine, Joseph Augustine, and Austin Martin.

What’s Next? 

The partnership between Atlantic Water Network and Anqotum is opening some new and exciting doors for the Miramichi area. AWN currently runs four water-monitoring equipment hubs in locations across Atlantic Canada, including Halifax, Cape Breton, P.E.I., and Saint John. These hubs provide water monitoring equipment for groups to start their own water quality monitoring programs and we’re happy to officially announce, the Anqotum office will be our newest location for an equipment hub!

The Anqotum office will have Water Rangers compact field test kits AND a YSI multiparameter probe with a 10m long cable. Equipment is beginning to arrive but an announcement will be posted when equipment is ready to be loaned. Please contact Anqotum directly for any questions about future equipment loans at info@anqotum.ca.

Big thanks from the AWN team to all ARM staff and community participants for taking part in a successful water monitoring bootcamp!

This work would not have been possible without the support of AWN’s funders, including the New Brunswick Environmental Trust Fund, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and the Clean Foundation. Thank you for supporting AWN and Anqotum in putting on this program!  Your Environmental Trust Fund at Work!