On October 25, 2018, our Grade 9 Science class from the École secondaire catholique Franco-Cité had the opportunity to participate in an educational activity called “Adopt a River” at Fortune Creek, in Gatineau Park.

Environmental Awareness

Adopt a River is an environmental awareness program organized by the Education and Water-Monitoring Action Group, EWAG / G3E. Since 1989, this organization had encouraged citizen participation in the protection and enhancement of aquatic ecosystems. It does this by developing citizen science programs such as Adopt a River and SurVol Benthos, and creates educational and scientific tools for the ecological monitoring of water resources. 

Our Field Trip to Gatineau Park

During our field trip, we collected physicochemical data, such as turbidity and percentage of dissolved oxygen. We also observed a variety of macro-invertebrates. This made us aware that many different organisms live in the water, and that each one plays a vital role in the ecosystem. Also, from our results, we discovered that the creek is healthy, with a health index of 98 percent, which is very good.

We also know that, even though the creek is healthy, we still need to make efforts to keep it that way.

Protection of Ecosystems

During our visit, we expected to find a healthy ecosystem, because Gatineau Park is governed by several laws that emphasize conservation. However, we did observe several indicators of human activities that are potentially harmful for the shoreline environment. Here are a few examples:

  • writing and graffiti on tree trunks;
  • signs of people having walked close to the creek;
  • waste left on the ground (e.g. a pop can and an orange peel).

This activity made us think about the possible effects that our actions can have on the environment. Also, we saw that there are fragile environments that can be damaged through our own ignorance. There are signs and other sources of information in the Park, but a hands-on activity like this one really opened our eyes to the real issues that affect our environment. Community awareness about a cause such as ecosystem protection is crucial, and can help to change human behaviours that have a big impact on ecosystems.

Our activity took place in a protected area, which, for us, was very important. We were able to experience this activity fairly close to the city, in a quiet, peaceful place that was conducive to learning. Having seen human beings’ destructive capacity, we were prompted to contribute more to the protection of aquatic ecosystems like Fortune Creek, which is healthy and has good biodiversity at present.

A Few Recommendations

We feel very fortunate to have been able to take part in this activity, and we think that everyone should be able to experience it. Here are some recommendations we’d like to share. When you are near a river or stream, please follow these rules:

  1. Keep away from the shoreline, to prevent erosion.
  2. Do not leave any food or food scraps, to keep animals from becoming dependent on human food.
  3. Do not leave any waste, to prevent potentially harmful toxins from being released when the waste decomposes, as well as to prevent animals from taking it as food.

Writers

Hanna Bariciak, Cassandra Gowan, Michael Wossen, David Booth, Matthieu Benson, Noah Boyce, Tia Elkesserwani, Alyssa Thomas, Gabriela Haddad, Thalia Abboud, Catia Stella, Christian Mansour

Gatineau Park offers free guided activities for school groups, from kindergarten to high school. Learn more here.

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