The indigenous Iwi people of New Zealand have a saying: “I am the river, and the river is me.”
The Iwi have fought for 140 years to have their river recognized as an ancestor. In March 2017, Whanganui River and its ecosystem became the first to be granted to same legal rights as a human being. The legal standing guaranteed its “health and well-being”.
If a river has the rights of a person, what might that mean?
At The Green Channel, we strive to be the voice of living things. Today, on International Day of Action for Rivers, we are giving voice to our world’s rivers and streams.
Rivers work hard. Humanity and millions of other living things rely on them for survival. But we have not protected our rivers or their rights. Indeed, they are degraded to a shocking degree. We’ve all heard about endangered species, but what about endangered rivers?
The dangers to our rivers are numerous and well-known to most. Mining, damming, water extraction, diversion: all contribute to the deterioration of our rivers.
Today, though, is a day to celebrate the world’s rivers and those who struggle to protect them. It is a day to give voice not only to the problems but to the solutions. It is a day to take action and to educate ourselves.
That’s why today we’re celebrating the work of streamkeepers. Across British Columbia — from Burnaby to West Vancouver, Squamish to Qualicum Beach, and beyond — thousands of volunteer streamkeepers work tirelessly each year. Their mission is to monitor and maintain the health of their local creeks and streams. They protect and help restore the local fish (especially salmon) that rely on these waterways. Many also spend time and energy educating and involving their communities about how they, too, can become part of the solution.
Streamkeeping is close to The Green Channel’s heart. Our founder, Scott Renyard, is an active streamkeeper in Squamish. For Scott, being a streamkeeper is about protecting living things.
Getting involved with your local streamkeepers is a fantastic way to celebrate the hard work our rivers do to sustain us.