Earth Day falls on Apr. 22 this year and the Lake Windermere Ambassadors are inviting everyone to be part of the solution to pollution, beautifying our beaches for their Lake Windermere Earth Day Shoreline Clean-up. The clean-up will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Apr. 23.
Lake Windermere shoreline cleanups have been happening in both the spring and the fall with the Lake Ambassadors since 2012, even despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Luckily for the shorelines, we could still organize outdoor events last year, including our shoreline cleanups,” says Ellen Wilker, Program Assistant for the Lake Windermere Ambassadors. “This included following public health guidelines to ensure everyone's safety. Participants in past years were asked to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer, which was provided. They were also asked to register and participate in the cleanup with their household or core bubble and if they were feeling unwell, they were asked to stay home.”
Lake Windermere Ambassadors teams up with the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-up every fall, a nationwide organization that helps facilitate events to take care of the environment. “Our fall event this year is going to be a little different. We will still team up with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and have volunteers on the shoreline and in boats,” says Wilker. “This year we plan to work with a local dive volunteer organization and do some diving to clean the lake bottom, which will be really exciting.”
Those who choose to join in the Earth Day clean-up are asked to meet at Kinsmen Beach. Participants will be assigned locations around the lake which will have a volunteer leader. “Any opportunity for the community to come together and take care of the places sustaining us is an opportunity to connect with each other and deepen our connection to the place. The lake is such a central focal point for our community and, for many of us, one of the reasons we chose to live in this beautiful valley,” says Wilker. “There are a boatload of sentimental reasons why taking care of our environment is good for our community.
These good memories often evoke a sense of responsibility and gratitude for our home, which makes us feel the need to take care of it. So, this is an excellent opportunity to come out, meet the community, and just be outside together.” Project participants will collect data on types of debris found along the shoreline and the activities that might produce this debris while beach cleaners will have all materials provided including bags and gloves. Organizers of the shoreline clean-up will arrange for the disposal of the collected garbage.
Prior to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), no Clean Air Act, no Clean Water Act. U.S, Senator Gaylord Nelson saw the need to address environmental issues by creating Earth Day, which began as an awareness event in the early spring of 1970. The first Earth Day fell on Mar. 21, 1970, and then was moved to Apr. 22 going forward. Canada was twenty years late to the party as Earth Day officially became established in Canada on Apr. 22, 1990. It is now celebrated internationally.
“Like any singular day of remembrance, Earth Day is just a reminder of how we should be living. No, it is not feasible to spend every day of your life cleaning up garbage from the shoreline,” says Wilker. “However, spending one-day cleaning up the shoreline can act as a reminder we need to take care of Mother Earth. It can act as an eye-opener towards how much garbage we produce and the impact it has, and it can instill a sense of connection to the places we live and the people we share it with. Earth day is just an opportunity to slow down and give back to the environments which give us so much every day and an invitation to carry this perspective forward into our everyday lives.”
Many Indigenous Peoples, such as the Ktunaxa (Akisqnuk) Nation and the Shuswap Indian Band, also have strong ties and a rich history with Lake Windermere as it falls within their traditional territory. Community groups, businesses, school groups, families and friends are all welcome to join in on this rewarding event. To register and help Lake Windermere’s shorelines, please contact Lake Windermere Ambassadors at email@example.com.
Chadd Cawson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer