- BC Games
Trip down the Fraser a learning experience
New Westminster was created in the 1850s because of its connection to the Fraser River. Colin O’Neil, a resident of the city, has spent this month getting to know all about the Fraser and its connections.
O’Neil is the first Royal City homegrown to participate in the Rivershed Society of B.C.’s Sustainable Living Leadership Program. On Aug. 1, he and seven other environmentally conscious adults got into a canoe at the river’s headwaters and started paddling headed toward the mouth of the Fraser finishing the trip Sunday.
“It’s been amazing to see everything that we’ve seen,” said O’Neil, 23, a Simon Fraser University geography and history graduate during a stop for lunch at the Fraser River Discovery Centre on Friday.
O’Neil said the amazement comes from seeing the diversity of people, climate, ecology and culture that lives in, on and around the Fraser River.
“That’s fascinating to see and learn about,” said O’Neil, who admitted he hadn’t given much thought to how many people are connected to the river before.
“There’s only a small group that get to do what we did. You might live [along the Fraser River] all your life and not see it the way we see it.”
The program was started by Fin Donnelly, who has swum the length of the Fraser twice to raise awareness of riversheds in B.C. but these days he is the NDP MP for New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port Moody.
The participants, accompanied by Donnelly, spent their days paddling, learning, eating and sleeping under the stars.
“It’s so stimulating all the time,” said O’Neil.
So stimulating that during their stop at the centre, O’Neil was hooking up with officials there about the possibility of him doing a presentation about New Westminster’s connection to the river, what it’s doing well and what it can work on.
“[Talking about] the things that we can use to grow as a city,” said O’Neil.