Gladys Atrill (back of boat) and fellow paddlers were one of the last boats to depart from Quick Bridge to Telkwa during the annual B.C. Rivers Day float.

Gladys Atrill (back of boat) and fellow paddlers were one of the last boats to depart from Quick Bridge to Telkwa during the annual B.C. Rivers Day float.

Rivers Day celebrates waterways

Hundreds of people came out to Telkwa last weekend to celebrate the clean waterways that flow throughout the Bulkley Valley.

Hundreds of people came out to Telkwa last weekend to celebrate the clean waterways that flow throughout the Bulkley Valley.

The 34th annual B.C. Rivers Day is held on the last Sunday of September and brings awareness to the province’s clean rivers. World Rivers Day, also on Sept. 28 this year, is based on the success of B.C. Rivers Day, according to the website.

Locally, individuals organized a float down a portion of the Bulkley River.

“[It’s] about the waterways that flow through our valley and thinking about what we get from free-flowing and clean rivers,” said Gladys Atrill, who helped organize the river float on Sunday morning.

“Where we live here, our rivers provide us with drinking water and provide us with recreation and occupation. Rivers are really integral to who we are and this is the one day a year where we can give our thoughts to the rivers and benefit from it.”

More than 60 people floated from Quick Bridge to Telkwa this year in colourful  kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards.

Numerous people have made the annual downstream float a tradition.

Patty Borek and her daughter Bridgit are from Vanderhoof and have participated in Rivers Day for the past three years.

“It’s fun. We like to paddle and we have the most beautiful rivers in the world in northern B.C.,” said Borek.

For Smithers’ Mike and Darlene Doogan-Smith, this is their fifth Rivers Day float and one last opportunity to enjoy time on the river this season.

“We just like being with like-minded people who appreciate the rivers and for us, having that one last chance to get on the river before the winter flies,” said Mike.

Diane Suter floated down the river in a canoe this year.

“It’s a great day for all these people to get together and just share what the Bulkley River and all the other rivers in the area give us like the clean water, the fish, the recreation and the natural beauty,” said Suter, who has participated in the float every year since 2007.

“Everyone gets together to share the river and it’s really a great feeling . . . there’s a feel of togetherness with other people who love the river the way it is.”

There was also a barbecue and live entertainment at Eddy Park in Telkwa, similar to the celebrations they’ve put on the last few years.

“[The river] is definitely a part of the soul of this community and it’s just that one day a year that people can pay special attention to it,” said Atrill. “Just take time to contemplate how rich our lives are because of the rich rivers that flow through.”

People must also take responsibility for the rivers in the region and clean up any mess they might leave next to the shoreline, she added.

“We all need to be responsible for our own behaviour and take our litter with us,” said Atrill. “It’s easy to focus on the big things, but it’s the little things that make a difference too, from fishing lines to coffee cups. We need to take care of it the best we can.”