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Chilliwack defined by its surrounding waters

Dean Werk of Great River Fishing Adventures talks about salmon by the Vedder River on Monday as part of a Water Week walk. - Paul J. Henderson
Dean Werk of Great River Fishing Adventures talks about salmon by the Vedder River on Monday as part of a Water Week walk.
— image credit: Paul J. Henderson

Few stories about Chilliwack—historical, contemporary or anecdotal—can be told without at least some mention of water.

The mighty Fraser River lies to the north. The Chilliwack/Vedder system is to the south connected as it is to Cultus Lake and Chilliwack Lake.

There are also the hundreds of waterways from fish-bearing streams to mere trickles that criss-cross the city like a spider web.

Then of course there is the Sardis-Vedder aquifer, which provides the city’s drinking water, not to mention the skies above, where the city sees precipitation on an average of about 185 days a year.

A couple dozen children and adults gathered on the Rotary Trail at Peach Road along the Vedder River on Monday for the first event in a week of events to celebrate Canada Water Week, which coincides with World Water Day on Saturday.

The “Get to Know Your Home Waters Walk” was led by Natalie Jones, community organizer with the WaterWealth Project.

A few of those also on the walk were Rachel Drennan from the Fraser Valley Watersheds Coalition, who spoke about habitat restoration and spawning channels; Larry Commodore representing the Sto:lo who spoke about the history of the waterway; and Dean Werk of Great River Fishing Adventures.

Commodore pointed out to the assembled group that the river they were standing on is the only river system in Canada with four names. Starting at Chilliwack Lake, the Chilliwack River meanders west until the Vedder Bridge where its name changes to the Vedder River. From are it flows to Yarrow where it takes a right turn and becomes the Vedder Canal, which flows into the Sumas River before ending in the Fraser.

Commodore explained the river is home to the Soowahlie people, who were moved off their once larger reserve to the small chunk of land they now hold between Cultus and the Vedder.

Werk told those who gathered about the economic and recreational importance of the salmon of the area.

“This river has more rod hours than any other river in all of North America,” Werk said of the Chilliwack/Vedder system, which is home to sockeye and other salmon as well as steelhead.

Jones talked to the group about the importance of protecting the river from as it remains a crucial economically, culturally and environmentally significant part of our area.

“Ultimately we want to see our home waters better taken care of in the long term,” Jones said.

Water Week events continue locally with a Wet Your Whistle happy hour and pub night at Major League Pub (45768 Gaetz St.) March 21 from 4 to 9 p.m. The event will feature an art raffle and info tables with many water-focused community organizations. And $1 from all drinks sold between 6 and 9 p.m. (excluding specials) will go to support WaterWealth.

Then on Saturday, March 22, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. there will be a World Water Day Community Celebration with the theme: Water and Energy at Central Community Park (45951 Victoria Ave.). There will be family friendly entertainment running rain or shine. Guests are asked to wear blue, bring signs and show their water pride.

• Complete event listing and details can be found at www.waterwealthproject.com.

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