Former Gold Bridge teacher Jacquie Lanthier is tackling the Fraser River – again.
The first time around in 2012, Lanthier was part of a Sustainable Living Leadership Program expedition that traveled on foot and by raft and canoe down the 1,400-kilometre river from the Rockies to the Pacific.
This time, she and three other women will be swimming the river each day as part of a Fraser River Relay Swim in the summer of 2015. They will be accompanied by raft support from Fraser River Raft Expeditions and expect to take 34 days to swim the Fraser.
The Relay Swim will start in late August, 2015 and will end in Vancouver on World Rivers Day, Sept. 27, 2015. It marks the 20th anniversary of Fin Donnelley's original swim of the Fraser. Donnelly swam the length of the river in 1995 and again in 2000.
“As part of the project we will have five large celebration stops, and plan to be in Lillooet for a large celebration stop on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015,” Lanthier told the News. “I am currently traveling through various communities along the Fraser River corridor to make initial contact with interest groups to see how they might like to become involved in the project. We hope the swim will inspire people to get outside and become involved in thinking about and discussing issues effecting the watershed, to celebrate the Fraser River and to become inspired to protect and care for the watershed.”
The four swimmers are Lanthier; Sheena Miller and Ali Howard, who both currently live in Smithers; and Amy Law, who has travelled the length of the Fraser for the past three years with the Sustainable Living Leadership Program. Law currently lives in Whitehorse.
Lanthier said she has been “on the road” since her teaching contract in Gold Bridge ended in June 2013, taking word about the swim to all corners of the province and getting a read on what is happening in the varied communities across B.C.
“Amy and I were inspired to swim the Fraser after falling in love with swimming in its waters on the Sustainable Living Leadership Program in 2012,” Lanthier explained. “We were inspired by Fin's story and the legacy he has left after his initial swims and have been working on the project since the spring of 2013. Recognizing that neither of us are long-distance swimmers, we realized the need to involve other swimmers and the core team of four was born. Sheena is currently rowing up the coast of B.C. all the way to Alaska over the next 100 days in a row boat she made herself, and Ali swam the Skeena river in 2009 in protest of Shell's proposed coal bed methane developments in the Sacred Headwaters.”
She said the Relay Team hopes to involve students in following the team’s journey and has plans to put together a rivershed education curriculum package with virtual opportunities to follow their progress down the river.
“We seek to make connections among different communities along the Fraser, to provide a platform for conversations that will create change, to inspire environmental stewardship and to engage as many people as possible in celebration of this amazing river!” Lanthier concluded.
Donations to support next year’s relay can be made to rivershed.com and people interested in getting involved can email Lanthier at firstname.lastname@example.org .