Signage posted at local rivers to bring awareness to issue
LOWER DEBERT - Atlantic salmon and other fish in Nova Scotia's rivers need protection if their species are to survive into the future, Marsha Hayward says.
© HARRY SULLIVAN - TRURO DAILY NEWS
Jalysa Shipley, 14, of Onslow Mountain and Marsha Hayward, 10 of Truro are part of a youth initiative aimed at educating the pubic on the importance of protecting critical habitat for Atlantic salmon in the Inner Bay of Fundy.
The Truro youngster may only be 10 years old, but that is part of the message that she and other youth Hayward is working with are trying to impart on the public at large.
"We're involved in this program because there's certain fish that are going be extinct because people are fishing them a lot," she said, of the Ikanawtiket Youth Salmon Habitat Ambassadors initiative.
The program is being driven by the Native Councils of Nova Scotia who are working with their elders and their communities to educate the public on the need to protect Atlantic salmon habitat in the inner Bay of Fundy.
The program began last spring with work-group discussion sessions that saw the 17 youth participants learning about the habitat and lifecycles of Atlantic salmon.
The youth then developed the wording they wanted to use to convey their message, which has been printed on metal signs that are being posted beside 10 "critical" rivers within the inner Bay of Fundy that have been identified as needing protection for the salmon that live within.
"They echoed, ‘well, what can we do about that? We're 10, I'm 12, this one's 14,'" said Paul Roberts, of the reaction from the youth during the discussion sessions.
"So we said public awareness," said Roberts, the regional environmental initiatives facilitator for Ikanawtiket Environmental Inc.
"It's for public awareness of critical habitat for Atlantic salmon in the inner Bay of Fundy.
Although the project is being led by the Aboriginal community, Roberts said youth participants, who come from various parts of the province, are not all of native descent.
"There's a mix," he said. "A little bit of a rainbow."
Standing beside the Debert River in Lower Debert, where a sign was being erected on Monday, Jalysa Shipley, 14, of Onslow Mountain, said one of the key points she has learned is simply how important it is for mankind to protect fish habitat if they are to survive for future generations.
"The Atlantic salmon are so important and if they go extinct it's because the rivers aren't clean and people are just not caring," she said.
The group erected a sign on the Stewiacke River on Sunday and following the stop at the Debert River on Monday they were scheduled to proceed to other rivers in Great Village, Portapique, Lower Economy and Folly Mountain.
Similar projects, which are funded through Environment Canada, are also being undertaken in New Brunswick and P.E.I.