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By Peter Dudley – Check out Peter’s blog at canadiannewsblog.blogspot.com
Canadians celebrated Canadian Rivers Day yesterday and here in Ottawa hundreds of people gathered for a daylong paddle from Victoria Island to Petrie Island.
In a recent CBC contest, the canoe was selected as one of Canada’s seven wonders and it was easy to see why – as canoes and kayaks of all descriptions were launched on the Ottawa River to celebrate the historic waterway.
“We are here to celebrate our Ottawa River and to protect and promote the ecology of the river,” said Ottawa Riverkeeper President, John Bouza.
Algonquin Elder, William Commanda led the opening prayer and women drummed in celebration of water.
“We want to save our Mother Earth,” said Mr. Commanda. “We pray for the protection of the river.”
Mr. Commanda also asked people to lay stones as a symbolic foundation for a proposed aboriginal centre on the island.
After the ceremony, people were invited to board one of the many historic voyageur canoes that were on hand for the trip.
Tim Armstrong, from the environmental group, Rideau Round Table, entertained the crowd with his harmonica playing.
Afterwards, Mr. Armstrong gave people a brief lesson in how-to-paddle-a-voyageur-canoe, and then the flotilla set off down the Ottawa River, passing behind the Supreme Court of Canada and the Parliament Buildings.
While many took part in the flotilla, many more stayed behind and helped the National Capital Peace Council (NCPC) clean up litter from Britannia Beach, Westboro Beach and Deschenes Rapids.
“This is our first event,” said Daniel Stringer, NCPC’s spokesperson.
“It should be part of our everyday thinking – good stewardship of the river,” he added.
Mr. Stringer hopes the Ottawa River cleanup becomes an annual event and hopes more citizens become involved in caring for the waterway.
All of the cleanup equipment was provided by the City of Ottawa.