Young children give young chum an enthusiastic send-off at Guichon Creek

On April 11, a group of kindergarten children from a local elementary school came to the BCIT Burnaby Campus to do some important work. They released salmon into Guichon Creek. The annual event was organized by BCIT Rivers’ Institute Chair Emeritus, Mark Angelo, in conjunction with the Salmonid Enhancement Program.

An advocate for connecting kids with nature and a renowned rivers’ expert, Mark was kind enough to answer a few questions about the promising event.

Chum Salmon-Guichon Creek
Mark Angelo explains features of the Chum Salmon to captivated children at Guichon Creek on the BCIT Burnaby Campus.

Which species were released? What’s going to happen to them now?

We released juvenile chum salmon who will start their journey downriver and then to the ocean almost immediately. These fish will mature over the next 3 to 5 years and those that survive will return to Guichon Creek as adults ready to spawn.

Why Guichon Creek?

The upper part of Guichon Creek is a classic river restoration story due to the efforts of both the BCIT Fish, Wildlife, and Recreation Program and the Rivers Institute over the past 45 years. I felt privileged to be involved with that. And with plans to eventually daylight part of the creek that is now culverted on the north side of campus, it made sense to begin building the chum salmon run. We’ve already seen benefits in that the number of salmon that have returned to Guichon Creek (right up to Canada Way just across the street from BCIT) has dramatically increased the last couple of years.

Why do this event? Put another way, why are you passionate about teaching children about fish and habitat restoration?

I think this event is very positive for the creek as well as BCIT and the broader community. But the event also provides a great opportunity to engage young children with nature and the environment. That’s something I think we have to do more of, especially in an urban setting, and exploring a stream like Guichon Creek with youngsters is a great way to accomplish that.

What was your favourite moment from the day?

My most memorable moments came from seeing the great sense of wonder and joy that was so apparent in the children’s faces. I think some of that is captured in the video.

If readers are interested in working in this field, what advice do you have for them?

For those that are passionate about the outdoors and the environment and want to work in a field relating to this, I strongly encourage them to pursue it. It’s important work that can be incredibly fulfilling and offer a great quality of life. Over the decades, I was fortunate to see so many dedicated young people come to BCIT and then go on to become great environmental leaders who are making very significant contributions to our province. That has been fabulous to see!


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