An upcoming Eel Walk is intended to raise awareness about the importance of a key and remarkable species in the Ottawa River—the American Eel—and to promote biodiversity and respect for Indigenous environmental knowledge.
Coinciding with the International Day for Biological Diversity, the family-friendly event includes art—participants can decorate windsock eels and meet a 27-foot long puppet eel—as well as walks between Victoria Island and Parliament Hill, ceremony and a feast.
Leading the walk is Algonquin knowledge keeper Larry McDermott, founder of Plenty Canada and co-author of The Recovery Strategy of the American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) in Ontario (2013) produced for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, a report still awaiting official action.
The American Eel, which at one time comprised half of the fish biomass within the Ottawa River and provided 70% of the nutrition for Indigenous people living along the river, is endangered. The American Eel population has declined since the 1980s to less than 1% of its former abundance, due to human activity and habitat destruction.
Find out more about the problem and what needs to be done from the 2013 study and the Ottawa Riverkeeper’s campaign.
The Eel Walk, organized by Plenty Canada and Free the Falls, takes place from 8:30-1 p.m. on Monday, May 21, 2018; see the Facebook event page for the schedule and location details.