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.
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.