Lakeview students partner with Manitoulin Streams on creek project

M’CHIGEENG—Students at Lakeview School in M’Chigeeng will soon be working with Manitoulin Streams Improvement Association on a project to be undertaken at the M’Chigeeng Creek.

“I pitched this idea to (M’Chigeeng) council for approval, with the idea of a project that takes in both conservation and restoration,” Neil Debassige, principal of Lakeview, told the Recorder last week. “Our kids are really keen on these type of projects, for instance they really enjoy visiting with Bill Strain and the Little Current Fish and Game Club on their fish raising project on Bass Creek—our Grade 4 and 7 students always get a tour of these facilities every year and they really look forward to it.”

“With that in mind I thought that maybe through the Manitoulin Area Stewardship Council (which he is a member of), we could approach Manitoulin Streams for the students to help work on a project,” said Mr. Debassige. “I talked to Seija (Deschenes, coordinator of Manitoulin Streams) as to what we could do having some of our students working with Manitoulin Streams on a project and she came up with the idea of looking at the M’Chigeeng Creek.”

Mr. Debassige said a small group has been formed to go forward with the project, including Connie Freeman, Grade 8 teacher at Lakeview School. “At the end of last year when I pitched this idea to council they thought it would be a great idea,” he pointed out.

“I’m still trying to coordinate all the plans, but students from Laurentian University and College Boreal will be doing invertebrate sampling and pre-assessment in stream for us,” said Ms. Deschenes on Tuesday. “Before we do any type of rehabilitation or construction we get this baseline information, usually carried out in the fall, and Laurentian is to undertake some invertebrate sampling in the creek next week.”

“The idea is for Lakeview students in Grades 7 and 8 to come down and learn about stream improvements and invertebrates, and how to do stream assessments, which are carried out to determine the health of a stream,” said Ms. Deschenes. “Then the following week College Boreal students will be involved in what they call their field camp with electro-fishing and invertebrate sampling, and see what type of species are in the creek and the students will again be part of this.”

“I’m hoping this will be a multi-year program with our students working with Manitoulin Streams,” said Mr. Debassige.

“By having kids involved in a project like this, maybe having a fish hatchery in M’Chigeeng is a reality some day, although it will be at least a couple of more steps away,” continued Mr. Debassige. “The program has awesome potential, and we’re all looking forward to getting it started.”

“With this project it may peak the students’ interest in this type of work,” said Ms. Deschenes. “And after this work is completed we are hoping to have meetings looking at restoring portions of the West Bay Creek. This project is great and will foster this learning among the students,” she added.

 Tom Sasvari