Pacific Streamkeepers Federation: “It is the voice of the community volunteer that we bring to arenas such as the Nanaimo Water Symposium,” stated ZoAnn Morten
Note to Reader:
The Pacific Streamkeepers Federation was initiated in May 1995, at a Community Involvement Workshop held in Williams Lake British Columbia, Canada, attended by more than 300 stream restoration volunteers from BC and the Yukon. The PSkF is a non-profit society committed to supporting community groups involved in Streamkeepers activities throughout BC and the Yukon.
ZoAnn Morten, Executive Director, is the co-keynote speaker at the Nanaimo Water Symposium. She will reflect on the role stewardship groups have played since the early 1990s, as advocates for stream-protection, collaborating with decision-makers and providing important on-the-stream observations and actions.
Can citizen science activism come to the rescue?
In 2013, a group of 36 students in Western University’s Master of Arts in Journalism class spent three months studying and reporting on citizen science. They then shared their citizen science stories — how it emerged and evolved, where it stands now and where it’s going. They tackled scepticism about whether or not it is indeed science, looking at the effectiveness of gathering “big data” and introducing activists who are using citizen science to bring attention to their causes. ZoAnn Morten, Executive Director of the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation, was one of those interviewed.
Choice of Language
An important issue in citizen science activism is language because it has the capacity to connect or divide people.
ZoAnn Morten prefers to call the work she does advocacy because of the negative connotations associated with the word ‘activism’ in Western Canada. “I have found that if I’m really cautious with my words that I can get into rooms that I wouldn’t be invited into otherwise, and then my voice can be heard,” says Morten.
About ZoAnn Morten
ZoAnn Morten is a recipient of the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, which recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community – in Canada or abroad.
She is dedicated to incorporating stream protection into new policy and projects throughout B.C. She is also a founding volunteer member of the North Shore Streamkeepers and Morten Creek Salmon Enhancement Project. Morten has trained many other volunteer stewards to protect habitat and wildlife.
In 2016, ZoAnn appeared before the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in the Parliament of Canada
To Learn More:
To watch ZoAnn speaking to the Standing Committee, go to 16:25:44. Afterwards she answers questions. She talks about helping streamkeepers take action through support, education, and building partnerships. Below is the YouTube version.
Streams are the ‘life-blood’ of region: Streamkeepers
“Streams need some love,” quipped Zo Ann Morten in a 2017 media interview. “They needed people to collect information on them, keep an eye on them, and watch for changes over time.
“They’re the life-blood of our region, taking nutrients from one part of our watersheds to another and watering the plants.”
But with the region’s constant flux of construction, property development, roadworks, erosion and pollution — “humans have had such an impact on the landscape,” Morten lamented — there are signs of hope, she said.
Pacific Streamkeepers Federation
“The objectives of the Streamkeepers Program are as follows: 1) Provide volunteers with the training and support required to protect and restore local aquatic habitat; 2) Educate the public about the importance of watershed resources; and 3) Encourage communication and cooperation in watershed management,”stated Zo Ann Morten.
Modeled after a massively popular U.S. program, and backed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada for the past quarter-century, the program led by the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation set a new precedent as many B.C. citizens became vital, hands-on partners in cleaning up damaged streams across the province.
“PSkF has been successful in bringing our Mission Statement to life in several ways,” continued ZoAnn Morten. “We help streamkeepers take action through support, education, and building partnerships. PSkF also provides training for volunteers, access to insurance to cover their societies, their works and their volunteers, an online database for Streamkeeper protocol derived data, and is active on a number of tables to bring the voice of the volunteer.
“Streams are really quite predictable,” Morten said when asked why she cares about them so much. “I like things you can predict.
“You can look back at a stream and see what happened, when it went up or down, and understand what it will do. The life in them is right in our back yards.”