Ken Kirkby speaks at Grand River Water Forum

Grand River Watershed Water Forum in Cambridge on Friday, Sept. 17.

Ken Kirkby, a noted Canadian painter, businessman and conservationist, is the keynote speaker at Grand River Watershed Water Forum in Cambridge on Friday, Sept. 17.

Kirkby lives in B.C. and has repeatedly achieved what he has been told cannot be done. One of those achievements is working with a group on Vancouver Island to bring fish back to a nearly-dead river, but he also brought inukshuks to the attention of people around the world and had a hand in the creation of Nunavut.

“In my opinion, Ken and his association on Nile Creek have done the near impossible – bringing back pink salmon, coastal cutthroat and coho to an almost dead river,” said Jack Imhof a member of the Water Forum planning committee and the national biologist for Trout Unlimited Canada.

Nile Creek, on Vancouver Island is not much bigger than Whitemans Creek near Brantford, but more than 100,000 fish returned to the river during last year’s salmon run.

“Ken’s message to local communities concerned about their river is universal. You can make a difference as a person in restoring your local river to health. Agencies can come and go, but local people feel the loss of a river the most and therefore have the most to gain from its restoration.

Don’t let them tell you it is not possible,” Imhof said.

The theme of this year’s water forum is “Inspiring Grand Transformations: Our Preferred Future” and it is about what individuals can do for local conservation, no matter whether they work as volunteers or as staff members for organizations.

Two panel discussions will examine the future and how the resources of the Grand will be managed sustainably. Ontario Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller will take a look back at 10 years of water forums, while the annual GRCA Watershed Report will also be presented.

Water Forum takes place at the head office of the Grand River Conservation Authority, 400 Clyde Rd., Cambridge from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Registration is open to everyone.

“This is the 10th anniversary of water forum and we are really hoping to attract a wide range of people. We normally have over 300 people at this event. You don’t have to be an expert or a professional in order to find it worthwhile, especially in light of this year’s keynote speaker and theme,” said Ralph Beaumont, Manager of Environmental Education and Marketing. “Lots of individuals have a connection to the Grand River and its tributaries in many different ways. They really can make a difference to this watershed.”

For more information or to register for Water Forum, check www.grandriver.ca or call 519-621-2763, ext. 2315. Water Forum registration is $100 plus HST and the student/senior rate is $55 plus HST.