Tag Archives: Salmon

Merry Christmas from Robbin and Co.

The tree is decorated, the cookies are made, the gifts are wrapped; now all that’s left is to wish you a Merry Christmas!

I took this photo above in our front room on one of our rare snowy and chilly nights just days ago.  It looks like Christmas perfection, and luckily my head elf / youngest daughter got us moving towards Christmas this year by picking out the perfect tree, decorating, and even doing a lot of the shopping and wrapping for us!

I’ve been reexamining Christmas and what it means to me, in particular as our world changes so rapidly around us. Although I was raised Catholic, on the surface Christmas appears to be a day we work towards, to come together and share gifts we’ve purchased or made, and eat, drink and be merry. The time together is the real gift however, and it’s should be done more often. I am grateful that Christmas gets us all together, but I am becoming more of the mindset to just leave all the present shopping for birthdays!

Photo: Christmas 2015 at Tohni's house... (Jackie, Tohni, Patrick, Brian, Nathen, Lorraine, Loryn, Mom)
Photo: Christmas 2015 at Tohni’s house… (Jackie, Tohni, Patrick, Brian, Nathen, Lorraine, Loryn, Mom)

My children are all young adults now, and it’s been a long time since I’ve written a Christmas Letter.  This year marks over 5 years that I have been back in Canada after life in The Bahamas, and no regrets. I love being home and I love my country.

My mother Corae has been living with us since September 2015 and all is going well. She turns 83 on December 23rd. For those that do not use Facebook, mom’s become quite the star as I share stories about her under the hashtag #ParentingOurParents.  They are tiny little excerpts of my life as I grapple with trying to be a good daughter, while what seems to be, ‘parenting’ my aging parent.

This year The Bahamas took the brunt of Hurricane Matthew, and I took my ex husband Brian into my home! For those not aware, Brian has Parkinsons, and his health spiraled downhill rather rapidly this summer. He’s been back in Canada since October and although glad to be home, and with family, he has a long road ahead. I’ve been helping him transition back to the real world as he awaits his new healthcare assessments. He’s improved a lot just by being here.

My eldest Loryn (26 years) is now a married working woman, and is speeding through life not only on the snowboarding slopes, but she’s progressing very quickly in her career as a banker. Go see her at HSBC if you are looking to invest.  She and Lorraine (a nurse) have purchased their first home, as well as their first car. The girls live conveniently just down the road from us.

Tohni (now 24 yrs) has been enjoying life in the fast lane and lives in East Vancouver. She’s in a great relationship with Patrick and has been co-managing a fun restaurant called The General Public on Main Street in Vancouver. Do stop in to see her, she’ll give you a super discount. This year Tohni worked her butt off so she could take in as many music festivals as she could over the summer, and traveled a couple times to the USA.

Nathen (22-yrs-old) is studying now at Simon Fraser University and is working at Vision Electronics. Go see him, he’ll also give you a good deal!  While taking on a full course load, he managed to move out last month, so his life is full of responsibility.  He lives just up the hill from us. His present goal is to become a chiropractor like his father, but he said he’ll see how things progress.

Jackie (20-yrs) is the last egg in the nest and has been a huge support around the house with helping take care of her grandmother and father. She’s been working at Dynamite women’s clothing at Coquitlam Centre and is still keeping up as the voice of the ‘community calendar’ on 98.7 FM. She can be heard every hour, on the hour at ckpmfm.com.

As for me, life is full on! I’m still working TheBahamasWeekly.com and this year we celebrated our 10th anniversary. I had hoped to get back for a celebration but the hurricane took care of that.  I’ve taken on several other clients that I do writing or social media work for.

Some 2016 highlights
Some 2016 highlights

This  year I was elected president of the Hoy-Scott Watershed Society which manages a salmon enhancement program in the woods near my house. I love my volunteer work there, and have been furthering the HSWS public relations by building and managing a new website, Youtube and social media accounts. Check us out at hoyscottcreeks.org.

I’ve just completed my first year of dragon boating with the 50+ Nothin’ Dragon Masters, and loved every minute of it.  I raced with the team in 4 or 5 festivals this year, which was very exciting. Our oldest teammate is 80. I’ve also been playing soccer with my daughter Loryn on a Div. 3 team once a week, and it’s special time with her and my favourite game. I took my love for the Coquitlam Crunch, a hiking mountain in our city, to new heights by co-chairing the annual event, the Coquitlam Crunch Challenge, and was featured in the city’s promo video. In fall of this year I joined Ultra Throw, a brand new local club of 20+ athletes training and competing in javelin, shot put, discus, hammer, and weight throwing. In 2017 I will start competing. I am excited (and scared) of this, as competing in sport ‘solo’ is brand new to me.

As for my love life, when a girlfriend from the Bahamas asked if I was dating, I said, “I’m open to it, but any group I join, or people I meet, the guys are either gay, already in relationship or married.” Another girlfriend suggested I join the dating group, “Events and Adventures,” to which I chuckled and replied, “My life is already an event and adventure! I don’t need to pay for it, and I don’t have the time in my schedule.”  Another girlfriend suggested I try online dating. I tried that once – went on one date, and although it was fine (meah), I’ve resolved to waiting to see what life doles out. So yes, I am happy and single.

In 2017 I look forward to keeping my life afloat, and also have some long-range writing goals I hope to get started on if I can find the time!

Below is my interview with Tri-Cities Community TV featured on Shaw TV where I talked about #ParentingOurParents, my salmon work, The Bahamas Weekly, and dragon boating. Click the image to view or HERE.

My interview with Cathy Cena on Tri-Cities Community TV
My interview with Cathy Cena on Tri-Cities Community TV

Whether I’ve seen you this year, or not; whether we only communicate now and again, or via social media; thank you for being in my life.  Have a wonderful holiday season!

Am I Anti-Pipeline?

It gets frustrating when I hear people make statements about others being ‘pro-pipeline’ or ‘anti-pipeline’, as it’s not that cut and dry.  Many that argue for the expansion of pipelines often justify themselves by asking if you enjoy your heated home or your car, or they ask if you use plastic.

Of course we have benefited from pipelines and have lived and progressed in many ways with the heavy use of fossil fuels.  My father helped put in roads and pipelines in the north of Canada. The oil industry provides an income to my nephew and many of my childhood friend’s families, as I grew up in Alberta.

Pipelines are not going away overnight, and every so-called ‘anti-pipeline person’ knows that. However we have to start making a change, and like any other revolution through time, the change will come, one step at a time. Personal choices are key. How we live, what we purchase, what we eat, all affect the whole. We must stop new pipelines to come into balance and make that turn for a greener tomorrow – to begin the reversal from what has wrecked havoc on our environment.

Sure we’ve seemingly benefited by the use of fossil fuel, but it was at a cost to our environment. Today more and more are divesting and directing their money away from fossil fuels. My brother’s company is pioneering in this movement.

Pipeline in the 1950s, Manitoba, Canada (Photo from the Whachell family album)
Pipeline in the 1950s, Manitoba, Canada (Photo from the Whachell family album)

We have the know-how to go-green through alternate means, and keep fossil fuels in the ground. However we are creatures of habit,  who like to cling to the old ways, and ridicule those who take a stand toward change. We are being egged on to remain complacent by those attempting to debunk new ideas, as a financial loss is at stake (for some). In a world where social media has us inhaling ideas like breathing air, we must be mindful.

Here’s one case in point: The Wall Street Journal, known to be a highly respected publication has a recent article titled, “What the Dakota Access Pipeline Is Really About” where the writer, Kevin Cramer goes on to say that First Nations were consulted; that it’s not about protecting water; etc, etc.

Yet, look at what Wikipedia tells us about the ‘writer.’ I was shocked to find this: [Cramer has been described by Reuters as “one of America’s most ardent drilling advocates.”  Cramer supports an increase in oil and gas drilling on public lands and supports cutting taxes for energy producers. He is opposed to what he characterizes as overreach by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In May 2016, Donald Trump asked Cramer to draft his campaign’s energy policy.  He wrote Trump’s energy plan, which focuses heavily on promoting fossil fuels and weakening environmental regulation. The plan also vows to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement and repeal U.S. regulations aims at controlling the carbon emissions which cause climate change. Cramer was “one of a handful of early Trump endorsers” among House Republicans.”]

Yet the Wall Street Journal just let’s Cramer have his way with us…

I encourage everyone to watch the free documentary  on National Geographic channel called Before the Flood by Leonardo DiCaprio. American actor DiCaprio admits in the film that he’s likely been one of the worst abusers of personal use of fossil fuels. Many will just stop right here, because I’ve even mentioned his name. That’s where we go wrong. We get so narrow-minded and hear one thing that is negative about someone (often from a ‘debunker’), and we check them off our credibility list.

First Nations people paddle in front of Kinder Morgan on Burrard Inlet during the Salish Sea Gathering in 2015. (Photo: Robbin Whachell)
First Nations people paddle in front of Kinder Morgan on Burrard Inlet during the Salish Sea Gathering in 2015 hosted by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Traditional unceded Coast Salish territory. (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

Another person I am tired of hearing be bashed is David Suzuki. Suzuki said, “By deciding in favour of the fossil fuel industry, the federal government is rejecting climate science and ignoring overwhelming community and First Nations opposition.” This man has given his life to educate us about the preciousness and intricacies of our planet, our bodies and our minds, yet people say he has a ‘hidden agenda’. Really? For what? If the man is exposing those that exploit our world’s greatest assets, don’t you think those that are gaining monetarily will attempt to make him look bad anyway they can, and at any cost?

What irks me most about pipelines like the Dakota Access, and Kinder Morgan is that the very few rich, get richer at the expense of the land, and the people that enjoy or live on that land, in particular the First Nations people. It only takes one (1) spill to ruin an environment, possibly forever.

I am opposed to Kinder Morgan for those same reasons, and because of the expected increase to tanker traffic in an area we hope our future generations can enjoy as much as we do.  I personally paddle in that inlet and see firsthand the marvels of nature on land, and in and on the ocean. I also work closely with my local wild salmon sustainability program, and I want my grandchildren to see these amazing fresh and ocean water fish return into our streams like we do today.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs said in a recent letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “You cannot truly believe that the Kinder Morgan sevenfold increase in tanker traffic is not a real risk to the B.C. coast, to everything that Coast Salish Peoples hold dear, including the fishing and tourism industries, to the orcas, shell-fish harvesting and the dynamic life systems in the ocean and on land…”

Burrard Inlet is enjoyed by the public. People kayak, canoe, row, and dragon boat along the waterway. This is my dragon boat team, the Nothin' Dragon Masters. (Photo: Erica McCarthur))
Burrard Inlet is enjoyed by the public. People kayak, canoe, row, and dragon boat along the waterway. This is my dragon boat team, the Nothin’ Dragon Masters. (Photo: Erica McCarthur))

It’s upsetting and just plain wrong that First Nations people of the affected areas are not being consulted in these big pipeline deals and are lied to by our government.

In the end, I have friends (and possibly family) that likely think I am naive and uneducated. Perhaps they are right.  I am no economist, scientist or marine biologist, and I don’t like labels. I know I lean more toward humanism and naturalism, “Pro-People” or “Pro-Planet.”

I am not simply, ‘anti-pipeline’ because it’s more than just about pipelines and profits, it’s about people and our planet.

[Focused Fashion: In this photo I am wearing my new Green Embassy sleeveless Organic Alpaca felted jacket made in Australia! This jacket is part of the “Empty Oceans Series” and 1/3 of its purchase goes towards Sea Shepherd Australia. Please support efforts to keep our oceans safe for seals, whales and dolphins.

About Robbin Whachell…

Join me in releasing coho smolts into Hoy Creek

I am really excited about Sunday, May 3rd as it marks 1 year that I have been volunteering with the Hoy-Scott Watershed Society in the city of Coquitlam where I live.

One year ago I saw a notice on Facebook and walked to the creek system just across from the house I am renting. It was pouring rain but it was worth the walk, and made for a wonderful experience, as I got to witness delighted young children carrying buckets of coho salmon smolts over a short distance from a pond to be released in  Hoy Creek.  I even transferred a few over myself.

I had lots of questions for the volunteers, and after one of them answered me, I was asked if I would be interested in volunteering. That’s all it took, and looking back now, a lot has happened in one year. My work at the salmon hatchery and in the watershed has been one of my most enriching experiences.

Not only does it get me away from this machine where I put in so many long days for my career, but I get to enjoy the forest, work amid flora and fauna, and dabble in the science of taking care of salmon from egg to the smolt stage.

Thursday is now my day to take care of the salmon feeding and stats,  so if you are ever around the hatchery mid-morning, come by and say hi.

The Salmon Leave Home event will run rain or shine, and begins at 11am running until 2pm.  Once the smolts are into the creek they head downstream, where Hoy Creek joins Scott Creek, and then it’s out to the ocean.  What’s even more amazing is that these salmon will travel back to the very same creek they were born in to spawn in the years to come.  Nature is so amazing!

I will be writing a more in depth feature called Salmon Story, coming soon.

The Hoy Creek Hatchery is located on Hoy Creek Trail, west of the City Centre Aquatic Complex at the corner of Pinetree and Guildford Way. Aerial view.

Hoy Trail has a several entrances:
– Walk in from Princess Crescent;
– Walk in from behind Douglas College;
– Walk in from Guildford Way (between Johnson and Pinetree);
– Walk in from Walton Avenue, or behind Walton Elementary;
– Walk in from the foot of Lasalle Place.
OR go to Google maps and type in “Hoy Creek Hatchery”.

Scott Creek gets an invasive English ivy removal for Earth Day

As members of Hoy / Scott Creek Watershed Society (HSWS), this past Sunday in Coquitlam, my daughter Jackie and I joined the congregation of Eagle Ridge United Church (ERUC)  in honour of International Earth Day 2015.  After feeding the salmon at Hoy Creek Hatchery  I put on a #BadSeed t-shirt (it was getting hot out) and we headed down with other HSWS members to help  remove invasive plants (mainly English Ivy) and garbage from the banks of Scott Creek south of Guildford Way and Eagleridge Drive.

I was shocked when we arrived and the congregation had already nearly a dump truck full of ivy. We jumped in and continued  on with them.  It’s always heartwarming to see families out, and people of all ages working together in nature with a common goal. The City of Coquitlam had provided the truck and all the equipment for clipping, digging, and garbage picking.

I’ve always loved English Ivy, and remember having it in our home in Alberta growing up. It was almost treated like an exotic plant there, as well as in The Bahamas, were I used to live. It’s everywhere here in British Columbia, and it looks so pretty growing over everything. Even though it’s beautiful,  it’s fast growth and extensive rooting system can quickly take over an entire area. Pulling  up ivy was not as easy I thought, as you could start by pulling up a root at your feet, and find out it extends meters away. My back sure felt it the  next day!

In total over 50 people come out, thanks to Eagle Ridge United. The photo above, provided by ERUC, is only a portion of those who lent a hand. “Improving the quality of this valuable habitat by removing invasive plants and garbage, and helping to restore native vegetation, is one small way our congregation is giving back to our neighbourhood” says Ingrid Brown, Associate Pastor for ERUC.

Jackie standing by a pile of uprooted English ivy; Ivy on the trees; Me next to the Bad Seed sign (no it's not a rock band, lol; and Jackie planting a tree that will support the riparian area were also planted.
Jackie standing by a pile of uprooted English ivy; Ivy on the trees; Me next to the Bad Seed sign (no it’s not a rock band, lol); and Jackie planting a tree that will support the riparian area.

Once we were done, my daughter reminded me that I’d promised her Starbucks, and we walked the short block to get something cold. Guess what they had in their patio planters?  Yup, English ivy!

Established in the Hoy-Scott watershed in 1987, Eagle Ridge United Church is located squarely between Hoy and Scott Creeks, which join together before entering into the Coquitlam River. Both creeks support numerous species of salmon, including chum, coho, pink and steelhead, and provide habitat for a diversity of wildlife in this urbanized neighbourhood.

The Hoy / Scott Watershed Society operates a small salmon hatchery in Coquitlam and conducts a salmon enhancement program. The group stewards the Hoy and Scott Watersheds, promotes public awareness and education, and is involved in watershed restoration and preservation.

English ivy is used throughout the Lower Mainland Vancouver area in landscaping. I took this photo in a shopping center parking lot in Coquitlam.
English ivy is used throughout the Lower Mainland of Vancouver used mainly in landscaping. I took this photo in a shopping center parking lot in Coquitlam.

Coquitlam groups to clean a portion of Scott Creek for Earth Day

Photo of Scott Creek looking south toward Guildford Way in Coquitlam  (Photo: Robbin Whachell)
Photo of Scott Creek looking south toward Guildford Way in Coquitlam (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

I am always pleased to be assisting with Hoy Scott Watershed Society, and although the hatchery is located on Hoy Creek, just a short walk from my home, it’s great to be focusing some attention on Earth Day over at Scott Creek. We will not be in the creek but in the riparian area along it.

Here’s our press release:

Coquitlam, BC – The congregation of Eagle Ridge United Church (ERUC) is giving back to its neighbourhood in honour of International Earth Day 2015. On April 19 from 1:00pm to 3:00 pm ERUC will be joining with the Hoy/Scott Watershed Society to remove invasive plants and garbage from the banks of Scott Creek between Guildford Way and Eagleridge Drive.

“The Hoy/Scott Watershed Society has been working to remove invasive plants around the hatchery on Hoy Creek and is looking forward to expanding our work to the Scott Creek corridor in partnership with Eagle Ridge United Church” says president Lindsay Pollock.

Established in the Hoy-Scott watershed in 1987, Eagle Ridge United Church is located squarely between Hoy and Scott Creeks, which join together before entering into the Coquitlam River. Both creeks support numerous species of salmon, including chum, coho, pink and steelhead, and provide habitat for a diversity of wildlife in this urbanized neighbourhood.

“Improving the quality of this valuable habitat by removing invasive plants and garbage, and helping to restore native vegetation, is one small way our congregation is giving back to our neighbourhood” says Ingrid Brown, Associate Pastor for ERUC.

ERUC is located at 2813 Glen Drive in Coquitlam. Everyone is invited to worship on Sundays at 10 am, and participate in community events such as this Earth Day good neighbour initiative. For more information, visit www.eruc.ca or call 604-945-9811.

The Hoy / Scott Watershed Society operates a small salmon hatchery in Coquitlam and conducts a salmon enhancement program. The group stewards the Hoy and Scott Watersheds, promotes public awareness and education, and is involved in watershed restoration and preservation. Learn more at hsws.ca.

Pacific Salmon Foundation announces grants to Hoy-scott Watershed Society and Fraser River Discovery Centre

[Photo above:  Rodney Lee, hatchery manager for the Hoy Scott Watershed Society shows the new connecting channel funded by the Pacific Salmon Foundation to (from right) MP Fin Donnelly (New Westminster-Coquitlam-Port Moody); Michael Meneer, Pacific Salmon Foundation and Chris Hamming, Hoy-Scott Watershed Society]

Coquitlam and New Westminster projects to improve habitat and provide public education  

COQUITLAM/NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. Canada – The Pacific Salmon Foundation today announced two more of its 2014 Community Salmon Program grants — $2,350 to the Hoy-Scott Watershed Society and $1,500 for the Fraser River Discovery Centre The announcement was made in Coquitlam with local MP Fin Donnelly (New Westminster-Coquitlam-Port Moody).

The Hoy-Scott Watershed Society will use its grant to improve a connecting channel between a pond and Hoy Creek because limited water access is leaving fish stranded. The Fraser River Discovery Centre is applying its funding towards the creation of a new salmon exhibit that will lead visitors through the salmon life cycle and increase understanding of the diversity of wild Pacific salmon.

“Our granting model is designed to directly benefit wild Pacific salmon in a way that maximizes community engagement and understanding,” said Brian Riddell, president and CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation. “The Hoy-Scott Watershed Society’s hatchery does double-duty in enhancing local stocks while engaging the public through educational initiatives. The Fraser River Discovery Centre’s new exhibit will reach thousands of youth who pass through its doors to help increase their understanding of the importance of Pacific salmon and the need for their conservation.”

“Wear and tear over the years has impacted our Coho rearing pond so much that water no longer flows correctly and it is difficult to maintain the right water levels in the pond itself,” said Chris Hamming, Treasurer, Hoy-Scott Watershed Society. “With the help of funding from the Pacific Salmon Foundation, we have been able to fix the problems and restore the pond to full operation.

“Our salmon life-cycle exhibit will be a new attraction for the thousands of families that come to our Centre every year,” added Fraser River Discovery Centre Executive Director Catherine Ouellet-Martin. “By using a series of floor decals, we will literally be able to “walk them through” the lifecycle of a wild Pacific salmon. This will be a great addition at the FRDC, both during special events like RiverFest in September – which celebrates BC and World Rivers Day – and as part of our overall education program on the importance of a sustainable working Fraser River.”

This year, the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Community Salmon Program will provide $1.5 million in grants to 121 projects in 72 communities across British Columbia. The total value of the projects including volunteer time and community fundraising is $9.1 million. The two projects in Coquitlam and New Westminster are good examples of this, as their total value adds up to almost $15,000 with additional funds raised at the local level.

“The work done by these two recipients and others in our communities is critical to the future of wild Pacific salmon,” said MP Fin Donnelly. “You can see how that will happen on the ground here in Coquitlam at Hoy and Scott Creeks. And the same will be case at the Fraser River Discovery Centre, which has been providing education around salmon for more than 10 years and helped me personally promote the health of the Fraser River.  I want to personally congratulate both groups for their efforts, and also thank the Pacific Salmon Foundation for its continued support for salmon by effectively leveraging proceeds from the federal Salmon Conservation Stamp and philanthropic donations.”

The Community Salmon Program supports thousands of volunteers who give countless hours each year to monitor watersheds, develop and implement habitat rehabilitation projects, and educate communities about the conservation and protection of salmon. Since its inception in 1987, the Foundation has provided $41.3 million in project awards and grants to a total of 2,262 projects that have involved more than 35,000 community volunteers.

The Pacific Salmon Foundation was created in 1987 as an independent, non-governmental, charitable organization to protect, conserve and rebuild Pacific Salmon populations in British Columbia and the Yukon. The Foundation’s mission is to be the trusted voice for conservation and restoration of wild Pacific salmon and their ecosystems and works to bring salmon back stream by stream through the strategic use of resources and local communities. www.psf.ca