Manitoulin Streams awarded national honours

MANITOWANING—Manitoulin Streams was bestowed with the highest of honours for its many accomplishments and successes throughout the waterways of Manitoulin. Manitoulin Streams was the recipient of the 2012 National Recreational Fisheries Award, presented by Ed DeBruyn, the regional director of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The award, which recognizes outstanding contributions in areas such restoring and enhancing fisheries and fish habitat, was presented at an awards ceremony in front of a large audience of members, supporters and volunteers. Poster displays and a slide show presented during the event depicted the many accomplishments of the groups, and their rehabilitation of streams on Manitoulin.

Minister DeBruyn, speaking on behalf of Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Keith Ashfield, noted that “Manitoulin Streams is a grassroots organization with a focus on large-scale, community-based efforts to restore aquatic ecosystems, promotion of ecosystem health, and public education.”

Minister DeBruyn went on to explain that, “since its inception in 2001, volunteers have leveraged over $2 million in funding and support towards the rehabilitation of 29 major stream sites and over eight kilometres of streams, rivers and creeks.”

Ted Williamson, chair of Manitoulin Streams, accepted the award on behalf of the organization. Mr. Williamson announced that he is pleased with the group’s accomplishments, but feels there is still much more that can be done. “We’ve met some goals,” said Mr. Williamson, “but we haven’t won the cup yet. We’ve still got a ways to go.”

Seija Deschenes, the project coordinator for Manitoulin Streams, explained that the not-for-profit organization has now attained charitable status, and voiced her thanks to the “numerous organizations which are imperative to the success of the projects.”

Manitoulin Streams depends upon partnerships and support from a wide variety of groups. Over 40 different groups, organizations, corporations and educational institutions have joined forces to help make stream rehabilitation a success on Manitoulin.

Landowners are a major stakeholder in the waterway rehabilitation projects, due to the fact that the properties surrounding the waterways are privately owned. As well, local cottage associations, Fish and Game Clubs and similar organizations are invested in the group’s many projects.

Funding comes to Manitoulin Streams from a variety of sources, including corporate sponsorship, and contributions such as the recent funding received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Various provincial and federal ministries, as well as educational groups ranging from local elementary schools up to post-secondary institutions such as Laurentian University and College Boreal, are key to the successes that have been realized in local rehabilitation efforts. Also included in the extensive list are several Manitoulin municipalities including Assiginack, Billings, Northeast Town and Central Manitoulin.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child,” stated Ms. Deschenes. “I say it takes a village to do stream rehabilitation.”

Heather Pennie