January 25, 2013

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal

A few folks have asked me why there's nothing on my blog about receiving a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Shy? Um, not usually : -).

So here goes. I was honoured to receive a medal yesterday, and was pleased to have the presentation along with 23 other Burnabarians at Burnaby City Hall in an event hosted by Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian and Burnaby-Edmonds MLA Raj Chouhan. Thank you, Peter and Raj!

There were a lot of familiar faces there - folks I've volunteered with, or met through volunteer work, with various local organizations. Congratulations to all, and I'm proud to have been recognized along with you.

The medal was for my volunteer work with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society. I must thank all the great people in that group who mentored me over the years, and who connected me to the wider Burnaby community.

When we moved to Burnaby in 1999, life was pretty quiet for a year or two until my wife Yumi and I encountered the streamkeepers. Joining their volunteer efforts completely changed my life, as eventually I became what I like to call "an accidental environmentalist."

Streamkeeping led to joining other community groups, and I soon found myself on the board of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, where I served about seven years as president; the board of the Edmonds Business and Community Association, where I put in a couple of years as president; a citizen representative on the City of Burnaby Environment Committee, a member of the Burnaby Board of Trade Environmental Sustainability Committee, and a board member of the Salmon Enhancement & Habitat Advisory Board to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, where I am currently secretary and chair of the communications committee.

So I'd also like to thank all the City of Burnaby staff that I've worked with, BBOT members and staff, SDMS board members and staff, fellow SEHAB volunteer board members, and DFO staff.

It's been a crazy decade or more, and while I may grumble now and then at my ratio of volunteer-to-billable hours, I have to say it's been a super experience working with so many passionate, dedicated, hard-working citizens, from whom I've learned so much.


MLA Raj Chouhan, me, MP Peter Julian


Me with RCMP Staff Sergeant Major John Buis. I worked with John
when he was NCO in charge of our local Donald N. Brown Community Police Office
in SE Burnaby. John has been at Burnaby HQ for several years now, and we
still miss him in our neighbourhood.

Above photos by Yumi


Photo by Brian Pound

And, of course, my lovely wife Yumi. This is really her medal, too, for I couldn't
have done it without her. Thank you for your love, and support, and patience.
And your volunteer hours with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers!

Thank you, Dad and Mom, for being community leaders and instilling in me from childhood
the ethic of citizenship as community service. I still miss you both. And Dad? Kinda cool
that you were a recipient of the Queen's 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee Medal.

Posted by Paul at 08:59 PM

October 30, 2012

Girls From Byrne Creek Secondary Rock on Spawner Tour of Byrne Creek

I was impressed with the good cheer and fortitude of half a dozen girls from Byrne Creek Secondary who went on a spawner patrol on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby in the steady rain this afternoon. Thanks to Louise from Stream of Dreams for arranging the tour.

Lu suggested meeting at the footbridge in the lower ravine at 3:00 p.m. so I got there about an hour early to scout the creek for fish for the students to see.

We watched a pair of chum spawning near Tag 517 in the lower ravine, and then watched another pair about 10m upstream of the weir in the lower ravine. A lone female chum was still beneath the log in the pool between 517/518.

The girls and their teacher were enthralled and peppered us with questions.

Then the piece de resistance: I'd found a dead coho in the spawning habitat earlier, and we walked over and processed it together.  It was a male, unspawned, 46cm, between Tags 511/512, likely a jack as it had no spawning colouration and was on the small side. We inspected its internals together to the best of my ability (I'm not a biologist!).

It was missing its adipose, so we took its head for delivery to a Sport Head Recovery Depot:

I was impressed by the girls' enthusiasm, even during the bloody bits.

As we were processing the coho we saw a spawner zoom up the overflow and jump into the sediment pond! Way cool! I cannot believe how cooperative the fish are being in getting ooos and aaahhs from the crowd this year!

I look forward to participating in more of the Stream of Dreams project at Byrne Creek Secondary.

NOTE: It is illegal to interfere with spawning salmon. Please observe from a distance. Streamkeepers have training, and authorization from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, to process dead spawners to collect species, size, and spawning data.

Posted by Paul at 06:36 PM

2012 BC Water Sustainability Grant Award to Stream of Dreams for Byrne Creek Project

Great news! Post from Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia:

The 2012 BC Water Sustainability Endowment Fund grant is awarded to Stream of Dreams Murals Society for "Mapping Where We Live," a project they are undertaking in collaboration with Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and Byrne Creek Secondary students in southeast Burnaby's Byrne Creek watershed.

Check out the cool video.

Posted by Paul at 08:23 AM

June 14, 2012

Video Interview about Byrne Creek

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers from Neilson Grove Elementary on Vimeo.

A video interview of moi, conducted by kids at Neilson Grove Elementary as part of a school Stream of Dreams project. Great fun! To see lots of other interviews of local stewards from many groups try this link:http://vimeo.com/search?q=Neilson+Grove+Elementary

Posted by Paul at 09:51 AM

June 12, 2011

Two Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Receive City of Burnaby Awards

As president of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society, I'm pleased to share that two of our members were recognized at the City of Burnaby Environment Awards today:

Louise Towell received an Environment Award for Communications for her work
as a founder of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society and spreading the word about
the importance of wetlands, creeks, rivers and oceans to the health of the world.
All Drains Lead to Fish Habitat.
Well done Lu and very deserving!


Denis Boko received an Environmental Star award for his work with Kaymar Creek,
for co-founding the Urban Forest Group, and for his work with Byrne Creek.
I'm sure we'll see more great things from Denis in the future!

In the two photos, Lu and Denis are receiving their awards from City of Burnaby
Councillor and Environment Committee chair Dan Johnston.


I'm also pleased that "fellow traveller" Alan C. James,
secretary of the Stoney Creek Environment Committee
also received an Environmental Star award.


Posted by Paul at 07:38 PM

January 19, 2011

Stream of Dreams Starts Search for Executive Director

UPDATE, FEB. 3, 2011: Please note that the following search for an executive director is now closed. Thank you to all who responded.

The Stream of Dreams Murals Society is in the midst of major changes precipitated by the resignation of our Executive Director, and co-founder, Joan Carne. Her passion and commitment to the society for over 10 years have inspired many Canadians (over 120,000 participants!), young and old, to think about where their water comes from and how to protect it. While the board is sad to see her go, we understand her desire for change and how hard this decision was for her. We thank Joan and her family for their dedication to the organization, and wish them all the best in the future.

The Board of Directors is beginning to search for an entrepreneurial leader with a passion for the environment who would be excited about growing the organization, and perhaps expanding its programs. The position would focus on administration and fundraising, and we look forward to hearing from interested parties. If you, or someone you know, might be interested in working with this remarkable, award-winning organization, and guide its solid brand and sterling reputation into a new decade, please contact Paul Cipywnyk, President, Board of Directors at paul@cipywnyk.com

We are also looking to expand our Board of Directors. The board meets three to five times a year to discuss current SDMS activities, finances, program initiatives and future direction. Please contact Paul if you are interested in participating.

For updates on our recent projects you can find our December 2010 newsletter on the Stream of Dreams website at: http://www.streamofdreams.org/images/SDMSNewsletterDec2010web.pdf

Thank you to everyone who has supported Stream of Dreams over the years!

Posted by Paul at 09:49 PM

November 18, 2010

Amazing Stream of Dreams Feedback!

As prez of the Stream of Dreams board, my heart glows to get this sort of response:

The Stream of Dreams presentation was a hit with our Grade Eights. The speaker clearly knew her stuff and the kids drank it in. Overall, a fun experience and a great cause.


I really enjoyed having Susan, Louise, and Joan from Stream of Dreams come out to our school.  They came very prepared to engage the students with their posters, stories, and models about protecting fish habitat and watersheds. This non-profit organization is doing amazing work and I hope they can share their important environmental message with children and adults everywhere.

"All drains lead to salmon habitat!"  We got it!  Thank you for your enthusiasm and for sharing your expertise with us.  My Grade 7's thoroughly enjoyed it, and we appreciate your passion.  Thanks for bringing our community on board this project.

The habitat connection was great for our grade 4's who will be studying this further during the year.  They really enjoyed the maps of the neighborhood surrounding the school.  However, their favourite part was putting their creative genius to work in painting the fish.  Thank you for showing us how we can be wise stewards of creation.

I totally love these school-wide  events.  Aren't those just the greatest and most creative fish you've ever seen!?!?! The whole school did a fabulous job painting them and a special thanks to those parents and others who helped string the fish.  It's good to know that when you say "All drains lead to"...the children all reply..."fish or salmon habitat." It was exciting to witness how enthusiastic the students were. I was renewed by how everyone used the gifts God has given them to praise and worship Him by doing their best work when they painted their fishes.
The people were really good. They really knew their stuff, and everything was so streamlined that my class was engaged the whole time. The fish look great and so does the fence now. Good work everyone involved.

Stream of Dreams staff and volunteers do amazing work. It's a privilege to work with them, even in a minor capacity.

Posted by Paul at 11:23 PM

October 23, 2010

Metropolis Express Fundraising for Stream of Dreams

All aboard to save salmon!

The Stream of Dreams Murals Society is taking part in a charity event at Metropolis at Metrotown in which donations to ride the Metropolis Express train go to several charities. Today was the Stream of Dreams "challenge day" - - one day to try to raise as much $$ as possible to potentially receive a bonus donation from Metropolis.

Stream of Dreams founders Louise and Joan were out, along with a fantastic crew from the Byrne Creek Secondary Leos. Kids got to colour small foil fish that were attached to the train to create a "salmon run."

In addition, local elementary schools were encouraged to join another Stream of Dreams-sponsored competition to win blank Dreamfish to do an environmental education and community art project at their school.

Thank you Metropolis at Metrotown, and Byrne Creek Leos!











Posted by Paul at 05:25 PM

September 14, 2010

Dreamfish Gala to Support Stream of Dreams Murals Society

It's coming fast! Just a couple of weeks to go, so get your tickets soon! The Stream of Dreams Murals Society is hosting a Dreamfish Gala on Saturday, Sept. 25 in Burnaby, BC.


Artwork by Stream of Dreams Artistic Director Louise Towell

Fantastic live music by  Holly Arntzen, Kevin Wright and the Dream Band. Yowza!

Silent auction, "fish pond", appies, deserts, wine. . .

Don't miss it!

(Disclaimer: I'm prez of the society's board of directors : - )

Posted by Paul at 09:53 PM

August 14, 2010

Speaking Streamkeeping at Mesa/Burnaby Sister-City Visit

I was invited to speak to a delegation on a sister-city visit today to Burnaby BC, from Mesa, AZ. The group was visiting Burnaby's gorgeous new Tommy Douglas Library, and I was asked to talk about the significance of the Stream of Dreams mural in the children's area of the library, and how the City and the library have collaborated over the years with local volunteers from the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers.

I quickly recounted some of the history of Stream of Dreams, and the original Dreamfish mural on a fence surrounding the property that the library was eventually built on. I spoke about the "fishy neighbourhood" around the library and the beautiful salmon sculpture and the "stream" and its aquatic animals inlaid into the path behind the library. I explained how all drains lead to fish habitat, and how streamkeepers and the City of Burnaby work closely together on keeping urban creeks and streams as natural and healthy as is possible in a developed environment.

While I'm not sure how much of the healthy watershed message I got across in a few minutes, I thank library staff including Chief Librarian Edel Toner-Rogala and Tommy Douglas Branch Manager Roberta Summersgill for inviting me. They are both wonderful to work with!


Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan (right) presents Mesa Mayor Scott Smith with framed memento of the tour.


Viewing the Stream of Dreams installation in the children's corner.


Touring the gorgeous library.

Posted by Paul at 07:30 PM

July 24, 2010

Burnaby Library Honours Original Stream of Dreams Mural

In a great collaboration, the new Tommy Douglas Public Library in southeast Burnaby has incorporated a visual legacy of the original Stream of Dreams mural that used to grace the corner of Kingsway and Edmonds.


Before the new library and adjacent commercial/residential development went up, the original watershed mural had to come down. You can read & see about it here.

The original mural commemorated the deaths of thousands of fish after a toxin was poured into a street drain in 1998, killing everything in Byrne Creek. That first Dreamfish mural stimulated amazing collaboration between streamkeepers, schools, the local community and several City of Burnaby departments. It went on to spark so much public interest, that eventually Louise Towell and Joan Carne, who had instigated that first mural, formed the Stream of Dreams Murals Society to carry out watershed education and community art.

Posted by Paul at 08:31 PM

June 18, 2010

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Incorporated as BC Society

After over 10 years of streamkeeping in which we've racked up close to 20,000 volunteer hours, the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers have incorporated as a registered British Columbia non-profit society.


While we've functioned very effectively as an unstructured "jazz band" in which different people have taken the lead on various activities and initiatives on an ad hoc basis, new volunteer insurance requirements were the final straw that pushed us to apply for society status. It'll mean more paperwork, but it also safeguards our well-respected "brand" and sets the stage for fostering a new generation of community leaders.

Born out of the volunteer efforts of several gentlemen from the Vancouver Angling & Game Association who began cleaning up the creek in southeast Burnaby around two decades ago, the streamkeeper group was formed when more people from the broader community became involved after a horrific toxic spill in 1998 that killed some 5,000 fish and other animals in the revitalized urban creek.

I must mention the leadership of Joan Carne, who has herded the group since its inception. I hope the newly established board can fill the huge gumboots she's leaving us! She's not really leaving, but is stepping down from an executive role because she's super busy with the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, which was also spawned from that 1998 kill on Byrne Creek, and has to this point taught over 100,000 kids across Canada about their local watersheds, how they function, and what every single person can do to protect clean water.

Thanks too, to the City of Burnaby, in particular Environmental Services in the Engineering Department, and the folks in Burnaby Parks who deal with environmental issues. Not to mention the Planning staff who work with community groups! Of course we also cannot do the work we do without the oversight and guidance of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and in particular Maurice Coulter-Boisvert, our DFO Community Advisor. And many of us volunteers got our streamkeeper training and ongoing support from The Pacific Streamkeepers Federation. Yay Zo Ann!

Byrne Creek has suffered several more kills over the last decade when people in ignorance have poured toxins down street drains in the watershed. But streamkeepers never give up!

Here's to the next ten years of streamkeeping!

Posted by Paul at 08:00 PM

June 11, 2010

RBC Blue Water Day Hosts Byrne Creek, Stream of Dreams

I was happy to represent the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and the Stream of Dreams Murals Society at the Kingsway/Walker RBC branch in southeast Burnaby for a couple of hours today for the bank's Blue Water Day. Several RBC branches invited streamkeepers and Stream of Dreams to participate, and we did our best to accommodate as many of them as we could, though it's tough to find volunteers during working hours.

Thanks to Veloy and the staff at the branch!


My Byrne Creek/Stream of Dreams display

All Drains Lead to Fish Habitat!


Serving clients cake!


Veloy and I - thanks!

Info on the RBC Blue Water Project here.

And thanks to the Pacific Salmon Foundation for matching our groups up with RBC!

Sometimes I feel a bit strange displaying front-page spreads of myself from the local papers, but I've discovered it's a great way to start conversations. People trundle by, glance at me, glance at the display, stop as recognition dawns, look at me again and blurt out: "Hey, that's you!" Yup, and now I've got you hooked for at least a minute :-).

Posted by Paul at 08:29 PM

March 15, 2010

Stream of Dreams Society Elects New Board at AGM

As president of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, I am pleased to announce our new board of directors as elected at our AGM tonight.

Paul Cipywnyk, President
Jennifer Lynton, Vice President
Rob Carne, Treasurer
Jane Burkholder, Secretary
Andrea Rozsa, director
Lynn Duncan, director

My President's Report to the AGM:

Stream of Dreams has an exciting year ahead of us in 2010 and many proud accomplishments to celebrate for 2009. Thank you to everyone for all the hard work over the last year.

We ended 2009 solidly in the black, and with many achievements to be proud of as we enter our tenth year. Unfortunately, this has also been a time of cutbacks in government grants, and a poor economy that has severely impacted several sources of revenue. The Society is being proactive in dealing with this situation, adding one staff member to focus on fundraising applications and promotion, along with handling some of the administrative work to free up some of the founders' time to focus on development.

Is 2010 the year of go big or go home? Those of you who have been with us for awhile know this has been a recurring topic over the years, due to the continually growing demand for our watershed education and community art program. We are also developing new methods of educating the public. The ongoing success of our programs, and our stable financial state to date despite economic fluctuations and the severe recent downturn, are testaments to prudent management both at the board, and operational, levels. I congratulate staff and volunteers again for their great work last year, and their efforts to ensure that 2010 will see continuing progress.

We have reached some amazing milestones: 10 years and 100,000 Dreamfish -- that are really something to celebrate! Stream of Dreams is also exploring partnerships with other artists with experience in combining art and music with environmental education.

The Stream of Dreams watershed education and community art concept grew out of a fish kill in Byrne Creek, which runs just a few dozen meters from where we are sitting here tonight. Sadly, Byrne Creek was wiped out again just ten days ago, when someone unthinkingly or unknowingly released a toxin into a drain in the upper watershed that flowed into the creek, killing well over 1,000 fish and likely other animals, in addition to impacting the entire watershed from the creek to the Fraser River, to the ocean. Our health, and the health of every living thing in the ecosystem is at stake.

It is clear that the need for education remains, that the need for our program is as important now as it ever was. I am personally saddened and angered by the loss, as I'm sure many of you are. But let us not despair, let us take this as a renewed call to action. I look forward to working with this amazingly talented and creative group for another year, and I hope some of the faces here tonight that we don't see quite as often will consider devoting a few more hours of their precious time to helping the Society's message spread far and wide.

Thank you, Paul Cipywnyk

And a big thank you to Stream of Dreams founders Louise Towell and Joan Carne, and to departing director and continuing Vancouver Island team leader Micqualyn Waldie for their passion, drive, creativity, and hard work that have grown a local community event into a multiple award-winning, cross-Canada watershed education and community art program. You are truly inspirational and it's been, and continues to be, a privilege to work with you.

Posted by Paul at 09:53 PM

January 12, 2010

My Stream of Dreams ‘Measurable Results’

As with many non-profits, the Stream of Dreams Murals Society struggles with how to provide "measurable results" to potential funders. The fact that we have taught 100,000+ schoolchildren about their local watersheds -- how they function, and how to protect them -- and that those kids have painted over 100,000 Dreamfish that have been installed as schoolyard murals, never seems to be enough.

As president of the society's board of directors for several years, I write reports for each board meeting. Those reports have varied in length, and just for fun I graphed them the other day.

So, with tongue firmly in cheek, here are my measurable results:


As you can see, my productivity has increased sharply to start 2010!

Posted by Paul at 03:24 PM

May 16, 2009

BC Streamkeeper Volunteers Paint Concrete Salmon

At the 2009 BC Streamkeepers workshop, volunteers pitched in to paint two huge concrete salmon in designs inspired by children who had taken the Stream of Dreams watershed education and community art program.

The original salmon sculptures grace the Alexandria Bridge in BC. DFO Community Advisor Joe Kambeitz found original mock-ups of the salmon in a junkyard and rescued them to make molds for use by streamkeepers across BC.

The following photos show the salmon arriving, and being painted by volunteers based on Dreamfish created by schoolkids who took the Stream of Dreams watershed education and community art program.

The last photo shows Joe with Stream of Dreams founders Joan and Louise.















Posted by Paul at 10:23 PM

March 05, 2009

President's Speech for Stream of Dreams AGM

Here's the speech I wrote and delivered for tonight's Stream of Dreams Murals Society AGM.

As president of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society it?s my pleasure to welcome you to our Annual General Meeting. \

It?s great to see so many dreamers here tonight, sharing ideas among all the Dreamfish and other art and awards on the walls around us \

and in the window \

and hanging from the ceiling. \

and if you haven?t been to our office before, I should warn you that if you need to commune with nature while you?re here, you?ll find the facilities to be an alcove of fish art as well. \\

At this point, protocol calls for me to introduce any VIPs present. But tonight is special because we are entering our tenth year of teaching kids about their local watersheds and creating inspiring murals of community art, so I would first like to recognize our co-founders, Artistic Director Louise Towell and Executive Director Joan Carne. \\

Next, our board of directors:

Vice President Micqualyn Waldie, who also leads our Vancouver Island programs and is a valuable member of our management team. \\

Treasurer Rob Carne \ Secretary Jane Burkholder \ and members at large Jennifer Linton and Andrea Rozsa. \\

And all of the members and volunteers here tonight who keep our program moving forward. Thank you. \\

I would now like to recognize some of the guests here tonight, who have provided support in many ways over the years. [list here: ]. \\

So it?s been ten years? \\

Who knew ten years ago that when a local artist and a streamkeeper beautified an ugly vacant lot with a mural of Dreamfish painted by local elementary schoolchildren to remember the killing of thousands of fish poisoned in Byrne Creek, that the project would result in teaching 80,000 kids across Canada about the importance of clean water? \

Who knew ten years ago that Dreamfish would swim across our nation, and even poke their noses into the United States, carrying their message of hope for a future with healthy streams and rivers? \

Who knew ten years ago that a couple of self-styled stay-at-home Moms would dream up a project that would grow from a handful of friends in a kitchen to a registered charitable society with a real office ?? and if you look out the window, an office that overlooks Byrne Creek, the urban waterway that inspired it all? \

At Stream of Dreams we never pass up a teachable moment, so I want all of us to think about Byrne Creek, and think about all the drains we see in that parking lot, and remember that all drains lead to fish habitat! \\

Drains on roads lead to creeks. \

Drains in parking lots lead to streams. \

Drains from roofs lead to rivers. \

All drains lead to the one great ocean that encircles our Earth, and sustains us all. \\

80,000 kids and other program participants know that message, and carry that dream for clean water. \

80,000 Dreamfish on schoolyard fences share that dream with everyone. \\

The Stream of Dreams Murals Society vision began ten years ago. \

The work began ten years ago, \

and the dream and the work go on. \\

It took a couple of passionate, crazy women to take the dream to reality. It took a lot of volunteers. It took a lot of hard work. It took a lot of swimming upstream against the current and negotiating obstacles, just like the salmon do every year when they return to our streams to spawn. \

Just like those beautiful, stubborn salmon have one goal ?? to keep their cycle of life alive ?? so we at Stream of Dreams have one goal: to ensure that those salmon, and all other species, including us humans, have the clean water that sustains life. \\

I look forward to working with you all in the years to come, and seeing where the dream takes us next. Thank you.

Posted by Paul at 10:23 PM

February 19, 2009

Protecting the Blue Heart of the Planet

Passionate speech by Sylvia Earle on saving the ocean -- a prize-winner at the TED conference.

"We are facing paradise lost."

"We have taken over 90% of the big fish from the sea."

"Health for oceans means health for us."

"I hope that some day that we will find evidence that there is intelligent life among humans on this planet."

"Auden: Thousands have lived without love. None have lived without water."

"With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you are connected to the sea no matter where on earth you live."

"No water, no life. No blue, no green."

Posted by Paul at 07:56 AM

February 06, 2009

Summary of State of Salmon 2009

The State of the Salmon 2009 conference over the last three-and-a-half days has left me stunned -- long days and lots of information to process. I documented it as best I could in a running collection of Tweets on my Twitter account, and I've posted that entire flow of jottings to my blog here.

First let me say that the conference organizers did a tremendous job. I don't know if there was ever any panic behind the curtains, but there was nary a glitch to be seen by the audience. And thanks to the simultaneous interpreters who mediated the flow in English, Russian and Japanese.

This was the second State of the Salmon conference, and my first. It's mostly aimed at scientists and bureaucrats, but we had a pretty good volunteer presence from lower-mainland streamkeepers and First Nations from the west coast and north. I think such broad representation greatly added to the conference, but of course I'm biased :-).

One of the threads that flowed throughout was the need for more research on how to protect and conserve wild salmon, and there was excitement about the new approach to science under the new Obama administration. The research dollars may start flowing again!

It was interesting to see the rifts occasionally bubble to the surface between the geneticists, the hatchery promoters and hatchery critics, the "stronghold, or protect the best" advocates and those who feel all habitat deserves protection. As a streamkeeper working on the ground, I was part of perhaps a minority that felt that any available $$ need to go toward action and habitat protection. We know what the problems are, yet we continue to study the patient while he's dying. Any knowledge we gain in the end is still, as one participant put it, "looking at a construction site through a hole in a fence -- and we're standing ten feet back from the hole."

There was also an underlying sense that perhaps with climate change leading to ocean warming and acidification, there is no way to prevent the loss of southern salmon spawning areas. Which to my mind made the groaning buffet tables laden day after day with salmon, halibut, shrimp, pork, bison, chicken etc. seem an indictment of the principles of having such a conference in the first place. Of course I ate everything, so I'm as guilty as anyone, but it never ceases to amaze me at how difficult it is for us humans to make our actions even approximate our pious thoughts. When it comes to human gatherings, feasting is so ingrained in all cultures that I doubt we'll ever get away from such behaviour.

At one point I was dreaming about future historians studying the progression of conferences and seeing that at the first one participants ate crab and lobster, at the second salmon and shrimp, at the third tofu and beans... and finally they were chewing on switchgrass because that was all that was left :-). Oh, rats, I've trapped myself in an illogical story -- by that point there would be, er, no point, in holding another salmon conference. I digress...

Something that was strangely absent from any discussion was pollution. I think it came up once in passing in a comment from the audience, and perhaps was glossed over by one of the speakers. Yet pollution is one of the biggest issues when it comes to habitat preservation, and is a direct and deadly killer of urban streams. And what's it doing to ocean survivability? We humans have been flushing all sorts of chemicals down our rivers and into the ocean for centuries -- surely that must have some impact on the "mystery" of declining biodiversity. Yet it was never addressed.

It was refreshing to hear from First Nations representatives who spoke from the heart, and who gave a breath of life to the proceedings. You can throw up all the PowerPoint slides full of as many charts and plots, and dense statistical calculations, as you like, but to hear the simple words "We have no fish anymore," provides much greater clarity and grounding.

Well, I have to get back to work, and perhaps I'll find time for more analysis and synthesis later.

I'm glad I attended.

Now, how about some ACTION!

Posted by Paul at 12:02 PM

February 03, 2009

Tweets From Day 1 Salmon Conference

Here are my Tweets from today's State of the Salmon 2009 conference sessions, in last-to-first order:

Fedorenko: Pacific Rim nations release 5 billion hatchery salmon/year.

Fedorenko: Total value of Pacific Rim commercial salmon catch $1 billion/year.

Beechie: Dams are the big story in extirpation of salmon in US lower 48, along with development.

Irvine: 50% or more of all BC salmon species are red/amber status (ie not good) in conservation units.

Irvine: In Canada general catch declines for all salmon species, 2008 one of lowest years.

Disappointed that reports from different countries are measuring different things so can't compare.

Hilsinger: Alaska salmon catches for all species have been good in last thirty years.

Radchenko: Russia releasing over half a billion hatchery salmon into Pacific annually.

Radchenko: Russian sockeye and chum catches are way up in the last ten years.

Kang: Korean salmon returns in 2000s fell to a third of returns in 1990s -- also warming?

Nagata: Focus on biodiversity of wild salmon and restoration of freshwater environments.

Nagata: Japan chum returns have fallen dramatically in south, more stable in north (Hokkaido) - warming?

Nagata: Japan stocking hundreds of millions of chum and pink fry.

Vladimir Belyaev: Important to improve national and international reporting to set reserves for salmon.

Vladimir Belyaev: Protecting entire watersheds is crucial to protecting salmon.

Vladimir Belyaev: Ocean survivability is moot if we don't protect spawning habitat -- rivers, estuaries.

Vladimir Belyaev: Russia is looking at setting up protected areas for salmon.

David Anderson: Concerned that Canada will fall behind US under Obama on climate change.

David Anderson: Major uncertainties about the impact of hatchery fish on ocean survival of wild stocks.

David Anderson: Strong opposition to change. People understand existing systems and fear the unknown.

David Anderson: The dead hand of the past protects the status quo.

Nathan Mantua: Humans are the primary drivers of change in salmon ecosystems.

Looking at Ecology and Society journal website: http://www.ecologyandsociety

Resilience Alliance http://www.resalliance.org/

David Suzuki -- World Scientists' Warning to Humanity, back in 1992 - http://deoxy.org/sciwarn.htm.

Suzuki: State of Salmon -- we invented the economy, we gotta change it.

Suzuki: State of Salmon -- all that humans can do is manage themselves, not other animals.

Suzuki: The most important lesson we have is the extent of our ignorance.

Suzuki: The future of salmon is bleak as long as politics and economics are the major drivers.

Guido Rahr fate of salmon will be determined in our lifetimes.

First Nations start by pointing out that side channels and creeks in the lower mainland are being destroyed.

Posted by Paul at 06:25 PM

January 16, 2009

Stream of Dreams Newsletters - Prez Says

I'm going to post all of my President's Messages from Stream of Dreams Murals Society Newsletters here on my blog to help get the society some PR. I'll just do all of the old ones on this date, and then post fresh ones in the future.

My president's message for the December 2008 Stream of Dreams Murals Society Newsletter:

People are complaining about soggy west-coast winter weather. I say it?s all in the head. I love the autumn rains because they stimulate returning salmon to swim up creeks and streams.

Why not view things positively? Instead of SAD being Seasonal Affective Disorder, think of it as Salmon Arrival Delight! I admit sun is nice, too, so the water is not too high and you can see the fish when you?re counting them, or simply appreciating the wonder of their return.

The Stream of Dreams program is about water, and deals with issues that can cast a gloomy cloud: pollution, rampant urbanization, watershed destruction, detachment from nature, and so on. Yet our teams do a great job of sharing beauty and hope while enhancing community spirit. Our teachers help students come up with positive actions that the kids take home and share with their families and neighbours.

I was at a workshop a few weeks ago on climate change. At one point a man in the audience jumped up and shouted that nothing changes, and ?some will live and some will die? and there?s nothing we can do about anything. Whew. Unfortunately, he left and missed a wonderful tale. It was a story about time-traveling twenty years into the future and the wonders of the environmentally, socially and economically sustainable world that had been created??one step at a time, using technology that mostly exists today. As long as we start making better choices now?

That?s what Stream of Dreams does??it imagines a better future and how we all can get there. So let?s follow the example of those indomitable salmon as they fight their way upstream in the rain, and fish by Dreamfish, let?s keep spawning ideas in minds, changing one at time toward a better future.

Download the entire newsletter (PDF).

My president's message for the June 2008 Stream of Dreams Murals Society Newsletter:

Spring has finally sprung and fry have been popping up in streams and creeks in our neighbourhoods.

This birth part of the salmon life cycle is an inspiring time, and I always feel uplifted when I spot fry in my local creek. I wish the wee tykes safe travels though I know that only a fraction of 1% of them will make it back to spawn. Such harsh statistics might seem sad, but you can also admire such persistence against overwhelming odds. ?My? stream??Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby, BC??has pollution and sedimentation problems, as do many urban waterways, and I feel relieved when I see fry appear and know they?ve made it through the winter.

Every fry counts, and every volunteer, every SDMS team member, every child, and every parent counts. It is all those small, individual efforts and individual awakenings that add up to great accomplishments.

When the local initiative that spawned Stream of Dreams began taking shape some ten years ago, nobody knew that it would grow into a program that would migrate across BC, across Canada, and eventually face international demand. I feel honoured to be part of this amazingly successful organization that spreads the word about keeping local watersheds clean and healthy??for the fry, for other animals, and for all of us.

Download the entire June 2008 Newsletter.

My president's message for the December 2007 Stream of Dreams Murals Society Newsletter:

What is it about Stream of Dreams that keeps me involved, that keeps me going? I think that answering that question would reveal a lot about our organization.

First, the people. ?It?s the people? is a tired clich? touted by corporate management and consultants, but our people are our power. We have an incredible group of dedicated, focused, creative people who believe in what they are doing, and who have fun doing it. The SDMS program simply could not be delivered in an effective manner without passionate people. That is true for all of our teams ?? they simply would not work if they were not made up of self-sacrificing, hard-working, inspirational people.

Second, our program. These days we are inundated by doom and gloom. I was recently at a conference where a keynote was entitled: ?Is Humanity Inherently Unsustainable?? Ouch! Yet our program is one of environmental education, art and hope that targets children ?? children who have the opportunity of being better stewards of Earth than previous generations have.

And last, our culture of doing rather than stewing. SDMS just keeps getting things done, and somehow the funding and administration follow. Like the salmon that guide us, we stubbornly keep swimming upstream. Here?s to great developments in 2008!

Download the entire December 2007 Newsletter.

My president's message for the June 2007 Stream of Dreams Murals Society Newsletter:

Thank you to all our hard-working teams, volunteers, staff, board directors, members and supporters! The SDMS continues to add teams and partnerships across Canada, and our award-winning educational program is reaching more participants at an ever-increasing pace. We couldn?t do it without you. It is a privilege to work with such passionate people, and I hope we can set up some events at which teams, staff, directors and volunteers can meet each other, and share techniques and ideas.

Polls show that Canadians are increasingly concerned about environmental issues, and we can capitalize on this trend to further spread our message of the importance of caring for our watersheds. All of those beautiful fish swimming on fences across our nation are symbols of hope for a future with clean water and a sustainable environment. I wish all of you well with your endeavours.

Download the entire June 2007 Newsletter.

Posted by Paul at 07:15 PM

August 11, 2008

Fish-Friendly Car Wash Kits

Having a car wash fundraiser? Make sure you're not polluting your local creek while you're at it -- all street drains lead directly to local waterways with no treatment. So what's the solution? A salmon-friendly car wash kit. I picked this up from the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation bulletin board and think it's a great idea.

Check out this info on the kits from our neighbours to the south in King County, Washington.

It would be great if the City of Burnaby would get a few of these kits and make them available at community centres!

Posted by Paul at 01:37 PM

July 04, 2008

Deer Lake Sunset From Baldwin House


The Stream of Dreams Murals Society rented the Baldwin House on Deer Lake to put up some out-of-town program teams that are attending a workshop this weekend.

We had a spectacular sunset from the Arthur Erickson-designed house overlooking the lake.



Posted by Paul at 11:26 PM

June 11, 2008

Griffiths Overpass, South Spur Urban Trail Opening

The beautiful pedestrian bridge over Griffiths Dr. in southeast Burnaby was officially opened today. I attended wearing two hats: president of the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association and president of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society. A refurbished Stream of Dreams mural was also officially unveiled on another bridge just down the trail. It used Dreamfish salvaged from the original Stream of Dreams mural that was at the corner of Kingsway and Edmonds for about six years.

The soaring arc connects the urban trail and Byrne Creek Secondary on the east side of Griffiths to the trails and Edmonds SkyTrain station on the west side.

Ian Wasson of the City's planning department MC'd the event.

Mayor Derek Corrigan.

MLA Raj Chouhan.

Stream of Dreams Executive Director Joan Carne.

Untying the ribbon -- the new sustainable way :-)

L-R: Mayor Derek Corrigan, SDMS Artistic Director Louise Towell, SDMS Executive Director Joan Carne, MLA Raj Chouhan, Burnaby Parks Chair Paul McDonell, Councillor Sav Dhaliwal.

Checking out the renewed mural.

One part of the mural had an eye shape, so SDMS Artistic Director Louise Towell created a special Dreamfish to highlight it.

Posted by Paul at 05:29 PM

June 08, 2008

Burnaby Environment Awards

Burnaby City Council and its Environment Committee held the 2008 City of Burnaby Environmental Awards Reception this afternoon.

Byrne Creek Streamkeeper and Stream of Dreams Murals Society co-founder Joan Carne was among the recipients.

Joan with Councillor Dan Johnston


Several Byrne Creek Streamkeepers attended the event, and were happy to see a Stoney Creek volunteer receive an award as well.

Posted by Paul at 05:40 PM

June 07, 2008

Hello Streamkeepers!

"Hello Streamkeepers!"

The cheerful shout caught me off guard as Yumi and I were trundling across Ron McLean Park in southeast Burnaby on our way to do our usual ramble down and up Byrne Creek.

I turned and saw a young boy happily charging across the grass, and shouted back "Hello, wonderful day, isn't it?"

He waved, turned, and ran back to his family, and we forged onward, me with a lump in my throat and a welling in my eyes.

That's community, and it feels wonderful.

I don't know his name, but I recognized him -- he'd been involved in a fish release in the last year or two.

Thanks, kid. You recognizing us as streamkeepers meant a lot more to me than any newspaper or TV coverage!

Posted by Paul at 08:34 PM

May 24, 2008

Revitalized Stream of Dreams Installed on SkyTrain Bridge

Several volunteers helped to arrange refurbished Dreamfish on a bridge carrying the Urban Trail across SkyTrain tracks near Edmonds Station today. The fish were salvaged from the original Stream of Dreams mural that was at the corner of Kingsway and Edmonds in southeast Burnaby for many years.

That original mural had to come down when the vacant lot finally began development. SDMS volunteers removed the Dreamfish and salvaged as many of them as possible for re-use if their colours were still strong, or refurbishment.

It's exciting that they are finally going back up! There will be an opening ceremony for the bridge and new mural on June 11 at 3:30. The bridge is just a few blocks south of Edmonds Skytrain station, heading toward Byrne Creek Secondary.



Posted by Paul at 09:00 PM

April 26, 2008

Louise Towell at Deer Lake Gallery

Louise Towell, the Stream of Dreams Murals Society art director, had one of her works called Pacific Gyre Spring on display at the Deer Lake Art Gallery today.


Posted by Paul at 06:53 PM

April 18, 2008

Burnaby Parks Volunteer Dinner

The Burnaby Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission put on its annual Volunteer Recognition Night this evening, and Yumi and I attended representing the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association, of which I am president. I have had the pleasure of attending the event in the past representing Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, and the Stream of Dreams Murals Society. Tonight our table was made up of representatives from Byrne Creek, Stream of Dreams, and the City's Parks department. It was an excellent event, as always, and the food provided by the City's Deer Lake Catering was fantastic.

Posted by Paul at 10:24 PM

April 15, 2008

Streamkeepers, Stream of Dreams Tame Lions

Joan Carne and I spoke to the Burnaby Host Lions club this evening. I spoke about Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and Joan spoke about the Stream of Dreams Murals Society. We were warmly welcomed to dinner, and our presentations got lots of questions. The Lions generously asked if there was anything they could do for us, and are willing to bring out their rolling BBQ gear and do hot dogs and burgers, or pancake breakfasts, if we do any fund raisers. Thank you! It is community volunteers pulling together within and across organizations that make Burnaby a great place to live!

Posted by Paul at 09:18 PM

February 29, 2008

UBC Learning Exchange Breakfast

This morning I represented the Stream of Dreams Murals Society at a recognition breakfast thanking people and organizations involved in Learning Exchange Programs run by the University of British Columbia. The event was held at the beautiful First Nations Longhouse on campus, and Dr. Richard Verdan provided a moving, inspirational, and humorous welcoming greeting, while explaining and sharing the cultural significance of the venue. Professor Stephen J. Toope, the UBC President and Vice Chancellor, hosted the event and gave an excellent speech thanking all those involved in the program.

SDMS hosted a group of UBC student volunteers as part of the program this year. I wasn't involved in the day-to-day activities, but as president of the SDMS board of directors, I dropped by a couple of times and listened, learned and shared with the students. I was impressed with the diversity of backgrounds, and by the interest the students showed in the SDMS environmental education and community art program.

Posted by Paul at 01:00 PM

January 18, 2008

Stream of Dreams Office Warming

The Stream of Dreams Murals Society had an office warming party this afternoon followed by our AGM and first board meeting of 2008. I was happy that by our count, 50 people turned out, including several Burnaby city councillors. As president of the SDMS board of directors I want to thank everyone who has helped make our environmental education and community art program a smashing success!

SDMS co-founder Louise Towell (in red to the right) shares the story of how the project began, while co-founder Joan Carne (blue SDMS T-shirt to the left) and others look on.

Here I am chatting with SDMS board member Jennifer (photo by my wife, Yumi).

Of course our fishy theme was reflected in the food presentation :-).

Posted by Paul at 09:22 PM

December 21, 2007

DFO Audit Must Result in Action

It's high time the DFO was audited -- its dedicated, hard-working field personnel have been downsized, overworked and hamstrung for years, its management has sucked, and it is not fulfilling its mandate to protect our fish, rivers and oceans. Here is a chance for public input to have a real effect:

"Madame Sheila Fraser, Auditor General of Canada is undertaking an audit of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada's Habitat Management Program effectiveness, success and ability to conserve, project or compensate for loss of viable, productive habitat in Canada.

"Please contact the audit team responsible for Fisheries and Oceans. They would be happy to speak with each of you to ensure broad community input and submissions to inform this process and add to the findings. You may contact either the audit Principal, Mr. Eric Hellsten at (604)666-7600 or the audit Director, Mr. John Sokolowski at (604)666-7608. They are both located in Vancouver at 250-757 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6C 1A1."

Commissioned by:
Sheila Fraser, FCA
Auditor General | V?rificatrice g?n?rale
Office of the Auditor General of Canada | Bureau du v?rificateur g?n?ral du Canada
C.D. Howe Building, 240 Sparks Street, West Tower
Ottawa, Canada K1A 0G6


Telephone 613-992-2512
Facsimile 613-957-4023

So if you have a beef with DFO, here's your chance to really make a difference. Internal government auditors have extensive investigative powers -- it's not just economics and finances, they can poke into all sorts of stuff. If enough people come up with enough war stories, Madam Sheila Fraser could well feel justified in expanding her mandate into overall DFO (in)activities, including the huge bugbear of enforcement. In other words, the auditor general could very well come to the conclusion that DFO is not fulfilling its mandate to preserve our "resource."

Support your local DFO community advisors, your thinly stretched DFO enforcement officers, and us dedicated volunteers... And make those DFO head-office bureaucrats and their elected minister in Ottawa sweat. Speak Up!

Posted by Paul at 08:54 PM

December 01, 2007

Stream of Dreams Expands to Toronto

The Stream of Dreams Murals Society based in Burnaby, BC, is spreading its environmental education and community art project to Toronto.

The Toronto District School Board has a wonderful writeup about the recent project at Dewson School.

Posted by Paul at 11:19 AM

November 28, 2007

BC Enviro Minister Visits Stream of Dreams Program

BC Environment Minister Barry Penner saw a Stream of Dreams program in action at the Oaklands elementary school in Victoria today.

The Stream of Dreams Murals Society has reached over 60,000 school children to date, teaching them about their local watersheds and creating Dreamfish to install on school fences to remind communities about the importance of clean water and healthy ecosystems.

Posted by Paul at 09:08 PM

September 14, 2007

SalmonTrain Kickoff


This morning the SalmonTrain was officially launched at Gilmore Station on the Skytrain Millennium Line. What's a SalmonTrain? It's a commuter train car covered with Stream of Dreams Murals Society (SDMS) Dreamfish, with an urban creek running down its floor with tips on maintaining healthy watersheds. Conceived by Louise Towell, a co-founder of SDMS, and implemented with the hard work of the Rivershed Society of BC and corporate partners Translink, 3M, and Lamar Advertising, the Stream of Dreams® SalmonTrain Mural in Motion is a vibrant means of educating the public about the importance of clean water in our creeks and streams.

As president of the charitable SDMS, I was proud and amazed at the results of nearly a year of hard work by all the partners. Here are some photos I took of the event, and the SalmonTrain.

The SalmonTrain poster at Gilmore Station.

Fin Donnelly, founder and executive director of RSBC, chairs the event.

Louise Towell, co-founder of SMDS, speaks.

Dan Johnson, Burnaby City councillor.

Partners pose in front of the Gilmore Station poster.

The SalmonTrain arriving at the station.

Louise and Joan Carne, SDMS co-founders.

The partners in front of the train.

A closer look at the exterior.

The urban stream inside the train.

An incredibly lifelike storm drain on the floor.

A closeup of Dreamfish in the floor stream.

The message? All street drains lead to fish habitat.

A ceiling poster, also called a "Michaelangelo."

Another ceiling poster.

So the message is, all rain drains (storm drains) connect directly to local creeks and streams. Why does this message need to get out? Ironically, as my wife Yumi and I walked home from Edmonds Skytrain Station after the event, we came across what was likely paint coming down Powerhouse Creek that leads to Byrne Creek. Somebody was washing out painting equipment into a storm drain, so we called the city in on it. There are still a lot of people to teach!


Update: Lots of stuff on You Tube

Salmon Train Launch -- Fin Donnelly, Louise Towell and Dan Johnson


Translink's Drew Snider

SDMS co-founder Joan Carne

Posted by Paul at 07:56 PM

September 06, 2007

Nature Illuminated at Deer Lake

My wife Yumi was interviewed about her animal lanterns that are part of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers display at the Night of Lights lantern festival in Burnaby. Originally I posted the story and photo here with full and repeated attribution to the Newsleader because their website does not have direct links to individual stories. On second thought, I am removing that copyright material. To find the story, go to the Newsleader website and click on the "Arts" link in the top navigation bar. It should be there for at least a week or two.

Posted by Paul at 11:37 PM

August 11, 2007

Byrne Creek Bug Count, Fish Trapping

Volunteers with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers in Burnaby, BC, had a busy morning, with several setting 11 traps in the creek to assess fish populations, and others completing the last set of samples for the summer bug count. Once the trappers were done, they helped the bug team count aquatic invertebrates that give us an indication of water quality.

The lush ravine in early morning light.

Rusty takes a break while Bob and Dave bait traps.

Not the greatest of photos, but there's a trout hanging out in the upper right corner of the frame as the trap is lowered into the water :-).

NOTE: It is illegal to trap fish, and streamkeepers do so for ongoing research under the auspices of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. All fish are released unharmed.

The bug team hard at work counting numbers, species and taxa. Coffee, tea and cookies help the effort.

Posted by Paul at 05:48 PM

July 18, 2007

Donaldson's Salmon Poetry

A friend sent me a link to Peter Donaldson's moving salmon lifecycle poems. He has a lot of excellent material on his site, and I hope to catch his Salmonpeople one-man performance some day.

Posted by Paul at 05:44 PM

July 14, 2007

Dreamfish Renewed at Discovery Day

Burnaby's Discovery Day at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts on Deer Lake was the site of the latest Stream of Dreams Murals Society and Byrne Creek Streamkeepers renewal of Dreamfish from the original fish mural at the corner of Kingsway and Edmonds. Those Dreamfish commemorated the killing of 5,000 fish in Byrne Creek in 1998 when someone poured a toxin down a storm drain, and grew into a watershed education and community art program that has taught over 50,000 participants across Canada with over 160 murals installed.

That original mural came down for a new development, and we salvaged fish that were still in good condition, and prepped them so that they could be repainted for a new location on a bridge on the Urban Trail that crosses the Skytrain line near Edmonds station.

You cannot paint a Dreamfish until you have heard the story of the death and rebirth of Byrne Creek, and learn how drains on streets and parking lots lead directly to local waterways.

Stream of Dreams co-founder Joan Carne explains how rain drains lead to local creeks.

Stream of Dreams co-founder Louise Towell talks about environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Kids painting Dreamfish.

My wife Yumi found time amid volunteering to paint a Dreamfish.

Kids double-teaming on a Dreamfish.

Adults become kids again, and the creativity flows.

Admiring the growing collection.

A closer view of a few beauties.

Posted by Paul at 08:41 PM

July 10, 2007

Stream of Dreams Teams Meet

Teachers and artists from several Stream of Dreams Murals Society program teams from across BC met today to share tips and techniques, and to brainstorm program ideas. As president of the board, I took the opportunity to put faces to some names, and sit in and listen to this dynamic bunch. We ran all day long, continuing discussion through lunch, an afternoon Dreamfish T-shirt painting session, and dinner.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and was impressed by the shared passion. Each person drew upon his or her unique characteristics and talents to present the SDMS watershed education program in slightly different ways, while covering the core concepts and remaining true to the society's mission "to educate communities about their watersheds, rivers and streams, while dazzling them with the charm of community art." It is precisely this flexibility that is key to drawing in students and keeping things interesting for everyone.

I'd like to share my president's message in the latest SDMS newsletter, for it speaks to this spirit:

Thank you to all our hard-working teams, volunteers, staff, board directors, members and supporters! The SDMS continues to add teams and partnerships across Canada, and our award-winning educational program is reaching more participants at an ever-increasing pace. We couldn?t do it without you. It is a privilege to work with such passionate people, and I hope we can set up some events at which teams, staff, directors and volunteers can meet each other, and share techniques and ideas. Polls show that Canadians are increasingly concerned about environmental issues, and we can capitalize on this trend to further spread our message of the importance of caring for our watersheds. All of those beautiful fish swimming on fences across our nation are symbols of hope for a future with clean water and a sustainable environment. I wish all of you well with your endeavours.
Posted by Paul at 09:02 PM

July 01, 2007

Dreamfish Revived at Canada Day Fest

Canada Day dawned bright and clear, and the Stream of Dreams Murals Society and Byrne Creek Streamkeepers took part in the festivities at Burnaby's Eastburn Community Centre.

We've participated in this event for many years, but this day was special because we invited people to help revive the original Stream of Dreams dreamfish that graced a chainlink fence at the corner of Kingsway and Edmonds in Burnaby for many years. The dreamfish commemorated the killing of 5,000 fish in Byrne Creek in 1998 when someone poured a toxin down a storm drain, and grew into a watershed education and community art program that has taught nearly 50,000 participants across Canada.

That original mural had to come down for a new development, and we salvaged all the wooden fish that were still in good condition, and sanded them and primed them so that they could be repainted for a new location on a bridge on the Urban Trail that crosses the Skytrain line near Edmonds station.

Dreamfish are special, and you cannot paint one until you have heard the story of the death and rebirth of Byrne Creek, and learn how drains on streets and parking lots lead directly to local waterways. We set up a pathway in our tents through which people passed to learn that story, and then they painted their dreamfish.

People line up to paint dreamfish.

We had lots of posters of trout and salmon to provide inspiration.

Kids learn from a 3D topo map of the Byrne Creek watershed.

Kids paint their dreamfish.

The collection of fresh dreamfish grows.

The palettes of paint grew increasingly funky!

Here's another one next to a blank dreamfish.

Even more dreamfish...

Admiring the eclectic collection.

Do you remember which dreamfish you painted?

What's a Canada Day without an RCMP honour guard?

Or municipal, provincial, and federal politicians cutting a cake?

By the end of the afternoon, Stream of Dreams and streamkeeper volunteers were exhausted, but we had a great time.

Posted by Paul at 08:19 PM

January 21, 2007

Stream of Dreams Starts Another Year


The Stream of Dreams Murals Society started off another year with its Annual General Meeting and first board meeting of 2007 this afternoon. I had the honour of continuing as president of the board of directors for another term.

I am so proud of our people, they have accomplished so much. Every year the number of kids we reach with our watershed education program continues to mushroom, and Dreamfish are wiggling their way onto fences all over Canada now. This little organization just keeps chugging away, while demand for our program continues to soar.

I'm amazed at what the society accomplishes on a tiny budget -- mainly due to the fact that so much rides on volunteer hours. Thanks to everyone who has pitched in!

We cannot satisfy the demand for our program and teach more teams to deliver it without increasing that budget. So please visit the website and use the secure link to donate whatever you can to support this invaluable educational and artistic effort, while receiving a charitable receipt. Thanks!

Posted by Paul at 08:41 PM

December 11, 2006

Burnaby Acknowledges Streamkeepers, Stream of Dreams

There's a nice mention of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and the Stream of Dreams Murals Society on this City of Burnaby page. (Check the Community Support area) for their input into the city's Eco-Sculpture program.

As a streamkeeper volunteer and president of the Stream of Dreams board of directors, thanks Burnaby! We enjoy working with the city and appreciate the support.

Posted by Paul at 07:32 PM

June 27, 2006

Original Stream of Dreams Comes Down

The original Stream of Dreams mural at the corner of Kingsway and Edmonds in Burnaby was dismantled today. The southeast Burnaby landmark was removed after six years to make way for a new municipal library, and a commercial/residential complex. A total of 47 volunteers -- Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, Stream of Dreams Murals Society members, Horizontes Explorers, Burnaby City staff and Burnaby Firefighters -- pitched in to get nearly 3,000 painted wooden Dreamfish off the fence in about five hours!

You can read the press release for more information about the event, and also check out the Stream of Dreams Society link above.

We untwisted the metal ties holding the fish to the chain-link fence, or cut them, and then pulled the ties out of the fish. Then the Dreamfish were sorted by condition and size, because we hope to give them new homes on other fences in the Byrne Creek watershed.

Here are some photos of the bittersweet event.

A line of volunteers removing Dreamfish.

Moving further down the fence.

The Horizontes Explorers pitch in.

Working around the shrubbery :-).

Boxes fill with beautiful Dreamfish, some still in excellent condition after six years.

Approaching the end of the fence!

Burnaby firefighters put on a much-appreciated BBQ. Thanks!

Pulling metal ties and sorting Dreamfish.

My wife Yumi looks good to go another couple of hours :-).

I'm dazed and amazed it's all over.

It was a wonderul group effort. The many hands made short work of the job. Thanks to everyone! Let's get these Dreamfish restored and back up on other fences in the watershed soon...

Posted by Paul at 08:42 PM

June 19, 2006

Fish Fly Off Fence

Stream of Dreams Murals Society
Byrne Creek Streamkeepers



For Immediate Release--June 19, 2006

Landmark Stream of Dreams Mural Departs Kingsway and Edmonds

On June 27, a Burnaby icon will disappear when volunteers remove 3,000 Dreamfish that make up the original Stream of Dreams mural at Kingsway and Edmonds. Thousands of schoolchildren and community volunteers, with assistance from City staff, created the beloved artwork for Rivers Day 2000 to honor 5,000 fish and other animals killed in nearby Byrne Creek in 1998 after a toxin was dumped down a storm drain. The mural was mounted on a City-owned chain-link fence around a vacant development site, where it became a cherished symbol of community spirit and environmental awareness that forged new partnerships in the struggling Edmonds neighborhood.

That original mural spawned a hugely successful award-winning program of watershed education and community art that has involved nearly 40,000 participants and is approaching its 100th mural. Painted wooden Dreamfish now swim on schoolyard fences throughout the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, and the BC interior, reminding communities of the importance of clean water and how storm drain systems are connected to local streams. Recently, Dreamfish migrated to Ontario, and cities in Alberta and several U.S. states are also interested in the program.

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, the local community, and the City of Burnaby will start removing the Dreamfish at 4:00 pm on June 27, working through the evening until the job is done. As many Dreamfish as possible will be saved for installation in new locations--??some are still in good condition, some require refurbishment, and a few will be lovingly retired.

Streamkeepers and the murals society will have information booths set up, and encourage the public to pitch in and also suggest new locations for the Dreamfish.

The City of Burnaby and the developer, Bosa Properties, have acknowledged the neighbourhood?s strong attachment to the founding Stream of Dreams mural, and are including watershed and salmon public art elements in the new residential and commercial complex that will be built on the site.

We are thankful that these original Dreamfish have already lasted years longer than a typical salmon life cycle. We are amazed at their symbolic power and influence, and we invite you to share in commemorating their migration to new waters.


For questions regarding this press release please contact:

Joan Carne: tobydog2000@shaw.ca
Co-Founder, Stream of Dreams Murals Society
Chair, Byrne Creek Streamkeepers

Paul Cipywnyk: paul@cipywnyk.com
President, Stream of Dreams Murals Society
Volunteer, Byrne Creek Streamkeepers


Posted by Paul at 02:19 PM

April 29, 2006

Safeway Pub Night Huge Success for Stream of Dreams

The staff of Safeway #148 on the corner of Kingsway and Royal Oak in Burnaby put on a great fundraiser for the Stream of Dreams Murals Society tonight. I don't know how they do it, but they outdid themselves yet again.

Held at the Burnaby Firefighters Club, it was a packed event with toonie tosses, a 50-50 draw, other draws and a silent auction. Safeway #148 has chosen the Stream of Dreams Murals Society as their annual fundraising charity for the second consecutive year, and we've had a blast working with them. They are an incredibly hard-working, creative and dedicated bunch.

SDMS founders Joan and Louise greet people at the door.

People picking up silent auction winning items.

Me wearing my "fish worship" T-shirt, and my much more elegant Mom :-).

Posted by Paul at 10:41 PM

April 12, 2006

Salmon in the Classroom Releases

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers have assisted with two Salmon in the Classroom releases of chum fry into Byrne Creek in the last two weeks. These events in which elementary school children release baby salmon that they have raised from eggs in their classrooms are always great fun.

Last week it was kids from St Francis de Sales and today it was a bunch from South Slope. It's wonderful to see these city kids get a taste of nature right here in Burnaby.

Posted by Paul at 09:25 PM

April 04, 2006

Burnaby Mountain Blossoms

Yumi and I zipped up to Burnaby Mountain to check out the blossoms late this afternoon. The cherry blossoms were nearly in full bloom, and daffodils also added splashes of color, beautifully setting off the crane mural painted by schoolchildren taught by the Stream of Dreams Murals Society to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Burnaby's sister-city relationship with Kushiro, Japan.

Daffodils set off the crane mural.

Cherry blossoms with a totem-pole on the left.

Close-up of blossoms with some still to flower.

Posted by Paul at 04:26 PM

January 21, 2006

Stream of Dreams Starts Exciting Year

The Stream of Dreams Murals Society had its AGM and a meeting of the new board today, and as the returning president of the board, I am very excited about the year ahead.

We have achieved charitable status, and while we haven't received our tax number yet, we've been told it will be retroactive to Jan. 1. This is a huge step, and it opens up a whole new world of fundraising to us to continue and expand our environmental education/community art programs.

Speaking of fundraising, I would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the staff at the Kingsway and Royal Oak Safeway in Burnaby for choosing SDMS as their community fundraising organization for a second consecutive year. They raised over $10,000 for us last year!

I see 2006 as being a turning point for the society. We are preparing to leap into a new level of operations, and I think we will see many exciting developments. Requests for the society?s programs continue to pour in from across Canada.

Our educators and artists have taught over 30,000 children about their local watersheds and how they work, and how to care for them, while brightening school fences with beautiful "Dreamfish" and other wildlife.

Posted by Paul at 08:29 PM

September 17, 2005

Night of 2005 Lights

The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and Stream of Dreams Murals Society participated in the Night of 2005 Lights at the Shadbolt Centre on Deer Lake in Burnaby again this year.

I believe our lantern installation is getting better every year. To our usual complement of salmon we have added jellyfish, a frog, a turtle, a crane, an owl, a dragonfly and other weltand creatures.

Here are few shots of setting up, and a few taken at night.






This is one of my favorite events of the year. I love how the atmosphere changes as the sun sets and the lanterns take shape, blooming out of the deepening darkness.

Posted by Paul at 10:41 PM

Safeway Raises $10K for Stream of Dreams!

The Safeway store at Royal Oak and Kingsway in Burnaby had a cheque presentation ceremony today, handing the Stream of Dreams Murals Society $10,096.83.


As president of the society I was thrilled at the amazing job the employees did in organizing multiple events to raise that amount. It was a magnificent job.

I know the society enjoyed working with staff at the store, and we had a great time at many events. There are rumors we may be selected as the store's charity again, and that would be fantastic!

Posted by Paul at 10:40 PM

June 30, 2005

Burnaby-Kushiro 40th Anniversary

Burnaby's beautiful crane ecosculpture and mural were unveiled today at a ceremony on Burnaby Mountain.

The celebration marked the 40th anniversary of sister-city relations, and the preservation of wetlands in Kushiro and streams in Burnaby.


Posted by Paul at 07:20 PM

June 24, 2005

Burnaby-Kushiro Crane Display Takes Shape

The cities of Burnaby, Canada, and Kushiro, Japan, are celebrating their 40th anniversary as sister cities this year, and Burnaby has put together an amazing crane project that honours Kushiro's efforts to save the red-crowned Japanese crane from near extinction.


Burnaby had 2,000 aluminum cranes made for children to paint under the direction of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, which is known for its watershed education and community art programs. The society taught children in 11 Burnaby schools about the Japanese crane and the efforts of Kushiro citizens to preserve its habitat, and then children painted cranes that are being installed on Burnaby Mountain.


Burnaby also commissioned a huge crane eco-sculpture that was recently installed on the mountain, and it is quite the sight.


The eco-sculpture and the crane mural will be officially unveiled at 11:00 a.m. on June 30, with the participation of a delegation from Kushiro.

Posted by Paul at 09:58 PM

February 27, 2005

Stream of Dreams Does Home Show

The Stream of Dreams Murals Society was invited to participate in the Vancouver Home & Garden Show, and we had a fantastic, exhausting time.

We taught passersby about the importance of watersheds and invited them to paint salmon that will be placed on public display in a Burnaby park.

The City of Burnaby provided a huge salmon eco-sculpture and hundreds of aluminum fish to paint. The big salmon will eventually be filled with plant material and become a living sculpture, and the small fish will be installed nearby.


A head-on shot of the huge salmon eco-sculpture frame.


People painting salmon


The mural takes shape on the giant salmon eco-sculpture.

Thanks to all the volunteers who helped!

Posted by Paul at 07:08 PM

January 09, 2005

Stream of Dreams Kicks Off 2005

We had our first Stream of Dreams Murals Society board meeting of 2005 this afternoon, and it is shaping up to be an exciting year.

Our board has grown to nine directors, including new faces in charge of coordinating volunteers and bookkeeping.

The program is attracting ever-increasing interest, and we are still working on getting a handle on growth. There are many exciting new projects in the wings that I will report on as they take shape.

Posted by Paul at 10:01 PM

November 27, 2004

Safeway Kicks Off Fundraising for Stream of Dreams

The Safeway store on the corner of Kingsway and Royal Oak in Burnaby has decided to make the Stream of Dreams Murals Society its fundraising beneficiary for the 2004-05 year.

Today was the official fundraising kickoff, and nearly a dozen SDMS board members, staff and volunteers helped Safeway employees tell customers about the initiative from 10:00 - 5:00.

We had a display set up and served wild pink salmon on crackers.


Every now and then, a few of us would wander through the store carrying fish on sticks. Here are (L-R) Jane, Joan and Louise by the seafood special :-).


I would like to thank the staff at Safeway for choosing our project! I look forward to working with everyone over the next year. Your assistance is greatly appreciated in helping our society achieve its mission of educating communities about their watersheds, rivers and streams, while dazzling them with the charm of community art.

Posted by Paul at 06:36 PM

November 04, 2004

Stream of Dreams Wins Burnaby Award

I am pleased to announce that the Stream of Dreams Murals Society won the Community Service Award tonight at the Burnaby Board of Trade Business Excellence Awards Gala!

In his welcoming speech, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan also singled out Stream of Dreams for winning the Gold Canadian Environment Award for Education this year. Stream of Dreams founders Joan Carne, Louise Towell and I spoke to the mayor after the event and he appeared genuinely pleased with the success of our program.

Our society got plenty of publicity in front of over 400 members of the lower mainland business and charity community tonight.

Posted by Paul at 10:35 PM

October 24, 2004

First Stream of Dreams AGM

The Stream of Dreams Murals Society had its first annual general meeting Sunday.

As president, I am pleased to report that all of the five previous directors stood for reelection, and three more people agreed to join to make a total of eight directors.

We followed the AGM with a board meeting at which many important issues were resolved, including the establishment of several committees.

The society is growing rapidly, and getting a handle on that expansion is going to be a big job. I'm glad that both the board and general membership are growing, and that volunteers are stepping up to the plate to move the society forward.

Posted by Paul at 07:18 PM

October 08, 2004

Stream of Dreams Finalist in Burnaby Awards

I attended the Burnaby Board of Trade 2004 Business Excellence Awards luncheon yesterday with Joan Carne and Louise Towell, the founders of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society.

I happen to be president of the society, and am pleased to announce that the Stream of Dreams Murals Society was named as a finalist in four categories:

Community Spirit
Community Service
Business Innovation
Entrepreneurial Spirit

Achievements like this would not be possible without the support of Byrne Creek Streamkeepers volunteers, dozens of school and community volunteers, and SDMS board members.

The winners will be announced at the Burnaby Business Excellence Awards Dinner on Nov. 4 at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown.

Congratulations to Louise and Joan!

Posted by Paul at 07:59 PM

September 18, 2004

Soggy Night of 2004 Lights

The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and Stream of Dreams Murals Society were the only community groups to show up at Burnaby's Night of 2004 Lights lantern festival Saturday. Rain throughout the day may have deterred others, but streamkeepers aren't afraid of water!

We arrived in the afternoon equiped with ladders, tarps and ropes, and threw up a ramshackle shelter beneath the trees below the Shadbolt Centre at Deer Lake. And good thing, too, as later it poured.


We then set up our display of fish lanterns, along with a frog, turtle and a heron.


Taking turns going for dinner, everyone was back by 7:00 when the lanterns were lit. We were happy we hung in there, as many appreciative spectators wandered by, and the great fire procession took place in grand style.


Posted by Paul at 10:38 PM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2004

Fascinating Air Photo of Lower Mainland

We picked up a 20 x 20" air photo poster of the lower mainland at IKEA Coquitlam yesterday. We'd seen the shot before in larger sizes, but even in the smaller poster one can easily make out Burns Bog and Byrne Creek Ravine.

You can immerse yourself in the poster, tracing the mighty Fraser River, picking out the border between the U.S. and Canada, marveling at the swirling sediment flow into the Gulf of Georgia....

It makes you appreciate how beautiful Earth is -- and what a huge impact humans have had upon it. It's hard to believe that the vast checkerboard expanse of urban sprawl was all forest as little as 150 years ago....

It's a great conversation piece, and we're going to frame it and hang it on a wall in our townhouse.

Posted by Paul at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2004

Edmonds Reborn

Stream of Dreams co-founder Louise Towell wrote an eloquent letter about the rebirth of the Edmonds area of Burnaby that appeared in the Burnaby Now newspaper on Saturday.

It's a vision of hope, with the community, business and the natural environment co-existing and improving. It's a definite read for anyone who cares about our community.

Way to go, Louise!

Posted by Paul at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2004

Stream of Dreams Wins Environmental Award!

Louise Towell and Joan Carne, the founders of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, won the 2004 Canadian Environmental Award for Environmental Learning last night.

The award comes with $5,000, and you can read about it at the Canadian Geographic's website here: Community Awards Winnners 2004.

Congratulations and thanks for all your hard work, and thank you to all the volunteers who have helped make Stream of Dreams grow over the last five years.

Posted by Paul at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)

Interviewed by CBC French TV

I was interviewed by CBC French TV yesterday about the relationship between the Stream of Dreams Murals Society and the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers.

Joan Carne and Louise Towell, the founders and operators of Stream of Dreams were one of three finalists in the 2004 Canadian Environment Awards for Environmental Learning, and the award was to be presented that evening at a gala near Calgary.

The reporter, cameraman, and I spent about half an hour down in the habitat, and about 20 minutes of blathering on my part was whittled down to three 4-second sound bites in the actual news item.

It was great fun!

Posted by Paul at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2004

Canadian Environment Awards 2004

Joan Carne and Louise Towell, founders of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, are among three finalists for the 2004 Canadian Environment Awards for Environmental Learning.

The Canadian Environment Awards was established in 2002 through a partnership between the Government of Canada and Canadian Geographic Enterprises, which manages the program and publishes the annual digest-sized awards magazines. The Canadian Environment Awards 2004 is also supported by 14 Canadian corporations.

Posted by Paul at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2004

Stream of Dreams Receives Environmental Leadership Award

Louise Towell and Joane Carne of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society received the 2004 Environmental Leadership Award tonight at a Burnaby Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission meeting.

The city nominated the society for the award, which comes from the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association.

The award was presented at a BCRPA conference, was accepted on the society's behalf by a Burnaby Parks commission member, and passed on to Joan and Louise tonight.


From left, Louise, Joan and Parks Chair Leslie Roosa.

Posted by Paul at 09:45 PM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2004

Stream of Dreams Places My Mug in the Paper

I spent a couple of days at Marlborough Elementary last week helping to install a new Stream of Dreams art/environmental fence display, and my mug hit the paper.

Louise Towell and Joan Carne, the women who founded and run the Stream of Dreams educational program did most of the work, along with the amazing mothers running the volunteer side. I just showed up to help attach the art with aluminum wire to the chainlink fences around the school under their artistic supervision.

You can see me here :-).

Posted by Paul at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2004

Marlborough Stream of Dreams Up

It's up! Over 1,000 fish, and wetland plants and animals.


I spent a second day at Marlborough Elementary helping to install a new Stream of Dreams art/environmental fence display.

I admire the fortitude and stamina of all of the parent volunteers who "twisted" the fish onto the fences. I couldn't believe how many unused muscles I rediscovered working on this project :-). Each piece takes anywhere from one to three, or occasionally even five or six, aluminum wire ties to secure to the fence.

Those ties have to be wound up tight, and crimped so they don't stick out and possibly injure anyone.

This was my first Steam of Dreams installation, however I suspect it's not my last....


Posted by Paul at 07:48 PM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2004

Streamkeeping, Stream of Dreams Keep Us Hopping

Whew! It's been a busy few days.

Saturday Byrne Creek Streamkeepers were at the Noons Creek Fingerling Festiveal most of the day. The crowds were a bit thin, but we used the time to our advantage, working on a report on the state of the creek, and planning for the Ugly Bug Ball sponsored by Department of Fisheries and Oceans Community Advisors for streamkeeping volunteers

Sunday evening there was a Stream of Dreams Murals Society board meeting, and then my wife and I spent today helping attach dreamfish to the fence around Marlborough Elementary in Burnaby.

I guess I'll just have to get up earlier in the day to keep this blog going!

Posted by Paul at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2004

Streamkeepers, Stream of Dreams, Mentioned in BC Legislature

BC MLA Patty Sahota mentioned the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and the Stream of Dreams in the provincial legislature as examples of succesful, hard-working volunteers!

Speaking about the Burnaby Festival of Volunteers organized by Volunteer Burnaby, Sahota said:

"Many people volunteer because it allows them a chance to give something back to their neighbourhood or to their community. Organizations like the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers are a prime example of volunteers who have shown dedication and determination in the face of adversity and have won the support of the community with their Stream of Dreams."

You can find the full Hansard entry here.

Posted by Paul at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2004

Marlborough School Hosts Stream of Dreams

The Stream of Dreams rolled into Marlborough School in Burnaby this morning, kicking off a huge project to teach kids about their watersheds, and paint dream fish and other animals for display on the chainlink fence around their school.

Kudos to the school, staff, parents, and kids for starting such a great event on Earth Day.

I attended the first few sessions this morning as the freshly minted, learning-as-I-go president of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society. It was educational to see founders Louise Towell and Joan Carne in action -- Joan in the classroom teaching kids how watersheds work, and Louise leading them in painting their own dream fish.


It's a sight to behold as teachers, kids, parents, and volunteers pitch in.

I hope to attend a few more sessions over the next week.

Posted by Paul at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)