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2020 marks the 40th Annual BC Rivers Day 

Thousands of river enthusiasts in British Columbia celebrate BC Rivers Day every fourth Sunday in September, which makes it Canada’s largest river appreciation event. This year’s celebration of the BC Rivers Day is themed as “waterways in our communities” and particularly special as it marks the 40th anniversary of the event. Mark Angelo, who is an internationally renowned Canadian river conservationist and recipient of the Order of Canada for his river conservation efforts, founded the BC Rivers Day in 1980.  

Why do we celebrate BC Rivers Day?  

Rivers and waterways are the essence of British Columbia and an important part of the province’s history and culture. In the past, rivers and waterways were the original highways that Indigenous communities and European explorers relied on.   

Rivers are our source of drinking water, they support species and ecosystems as well as offer a place for recreational activities. Ultimately, rivers have a tremendous impact on our health and well-being. They are a crucial natural resource – yet rivers and freshwater ecosystems are some of the world’s most endangered ecosystems. They are threatened by urbanization, pollution, industrial development, invasive species, damming, deforestation in watersheds, excessive water extraction, and climate change. One of the most endangered rivers is in B.C. – the Fraser River. According to the Recreation Council of BC, the threats posed to the Fraser River “reached their highest level in decades this past year making it the most critically endangered river in BC if not all of Canada going into 2020”.  

BC Rivers Day strives to create community awareness about the environmental, economic, and recreational significance of B.C.’s rivers. It is a day to encourage British Columbians to improve stewardship of rivers and make a difference for clean water, rivers and freshwater ecosystems. BC Rivers Day presents a great opportunity to organize a river clean up, gain more knowledge about river conservation or get outside with your family and friends to cherish and enjoy the beauty of B.C.’s rivers. There are countless activities that you can do on, in or by a river 

World Rivers Day – inspired by BC Rivers Day  

Did you know that BC Rivers Day also inspired World Rivers Day – now the largest river-related celebration worldwide?   

In 2005, the United Nations launched the Water for Life Decade to raise awareness of the significance of better care for the world’s water resources. Following the success of BC Rivers Day, Mark Angelo proposed the establishment of World Rivers Day. The event has grown ever since. In 2019, several million people around the globe celebrated World Rivers Day to cherish the values of the world’s rivers.  

Keep B.C.’s rivers clean and get involved to ensure the health of B.C.’s rivers today and in the future! 


More resources:

BCWF’s Heart of the Fraser Initiative

Endangered rivers in B.C.

Do you know B.C.’s waters? Test your RiverIQ.

Keen on organizing a community event dedicated to BC Rivers Day? Get your toolkit on the Recreation Council of BC’s website.

Recreation Council of BC’s Six Ways to Help Your Local Rivers.

About World Rivers Day

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