Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Reflecting on five years of salmon returning to Still Creek

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Still Creek photo with salmon and ducks

Still Creek at Natal Street and Cornett Road where chum salmon have appeared for the past four years. Photo by Kaitlyn Fung

BY CRECIEN BENCIO FOR STILL MOON ARTS SOCIETY

In the first week of November 2016, my neighbours and I are waiting. At Still Creek by Natal Street and Cornett Road, we step off the sidewalk and dodge the blackberry fronds. We are close enough that our fingers touch the water. Our eyes are alert for a flicker of a fin or a ripple.

For five years now this has been our ritual. This would be the fifth year salmon are to return to Still Creek in Vancouver. Still Creek is part of the Brunette River Watershed and is one of the major tributaries that feeds Burnaby Lake. The creek is partially hidden in culverts until it reaches Burnaby, where it flows above ground until it empties into Burnaby Lake. Chum salmon hadn’t made their way through these industrialized areas for 80 years until 2012.

I can feel the water seeping in through my shoes, but I am excited. This moment is part of the narrative our childhood – our environmental restoration efforts, the trees that we planted in the Renfrew Ravine now as big as we are, the silly garbage that we pulled out.

Personally, the salmon is a symbol of my own process of learning. This year, I have been more mindful of indigenous food sovereignty and the land that we are on. This journey has been confrontational and difficult. Through this, I learned how salmon is beyond species – it is linked to cultural knowledge systems, health, ecosystems, relationships and resiliency.

The salmon is a small wonder in my community. It surprises me how much I have learned from their returning presence. It surprises me how the many relationships I treasure revolve around their annual return. This year as I make my trek to the creek with friends I think, have the salmon heard our songs? Have they heard our dreams? For the past five years, this is where we have waited.

Still Moon Arts Society acknowledges that we are on the unceded, occupied, and traditional lands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh), Sto’lo  nations, and for this we are thankful. Through creating art, restoring environment, and building community, Still Moon commits to  facilitating spaces for understanding and for knowledge sharing. This work will acknowledge and respect the contexts of the past and the present.

How can neighbours help the salmon and contribute to a thriving ecosystem in Renfrew-Ravine?

  • Do not use harmful chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides.
  • Dispose of garbage, chemicals, paints and other liquids properly. Do not dump chemicals down the storm drain.
  • Wash your car without soap or with phosphate-free soap.
  • Participate in Evergreen’s Uncover Your Creeks program to take action to improve the health of Renfrew Ravine. For more information, visit evergreen.ca

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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