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Community feedback sought for North Creek

North Creek photographed on December 18, after heavy rainfall which flooded areas of Kahnawake. Nanor Froundjian The Eastern Door

Since summer, the North Creek Restoration project undertaken by the Kahnawake Environment Protection Office (KEPO) to revitalize the area and habitat around it has been progressing.

Now KEPO is gathering community input.

So far, a workshop covered the history and status of the creek, and the most recent survey identified bringing back flow and movement to the creek as the main priority.

Increasing the amount of water could be an option, but there’s more to it. “It also just has to do with taking out obstructions or improving the way that water can flow through with the channel that’s already there. The amount of water that’s already there can get through faster and more efficiently,” said Tyler Moulton, environmental projects coordinator of aquatic habitats at KEPO.

Removing invasive plants and planting native ones and protecting habitats were the other key priorities highlighted in the survey.

Over the years, as the health of the creek has dwindled, it has become somewhat of a nuisance to some community members who live along it, and it’s caught KEPO’s attention.

That’s the case for Allan Beauvais, who grew up there. “When I was a kid, we used to swim in the creek,” he said. “It used to be important when we were kids.” 

But now, dredging it is his primary request, especially near his current home or similar areas where the water is almost stagnant. 

Having a clearer structure and some guidance when it comes to taking care of the creek was also an idea brought up to entice more community involvement.

Reinvigorating the stewardship, maintenance, and care for the creek is an idea that KEPO wants to instill, said Brandon Rice, project support technician at KEPO. 

“A main priority for us at the office is to interact and educate more youth and get involved with the schools and the youth centre and other organizations to have people out there active in creek maintenance long-term, or just educational campaigns,” Rice said. 

The survey garnered 55 responses in all, with most input coming from those aged 40 or older.

“I think having an older demographic for engagement makes sense,” said Carlee Kawinehta Loft, environmental projects coordinator at KEPO. “These are the people who are more likely to remember the creek fondly because they knew it when it was healthier and flowing,”

Nearly 70 percent of participants grew up along the creek or nearby and around three-quarters remember playing in the creek when they were younger. Many highlighted skating on and swimming in the creek.

“The creek holds a special place in the memory of many community members, and many are interested in seeing the community take a collective role caring for it in the future,” said Loft. 

Anyone interested in weighing in or getting involved in the project is encouraged to participate in the first community visioning workshop coming up on January 18 at the Golden Age Club from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., or to reach out to KEPO directly.

nanor.fr@gmail.com

This article was originally published in print on January 5, in issue 33.01 of The Eastern Door.

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Nanor is a reporter and copy editor with The Eastern Door. She was previously the managing editor and creative director at The Link.

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Nanor is a reporter and copy editor with The Eastern Door. She was previously the managing editor and creative director at The Link.