BC Flooding 20211119

How to keep B.C. afloat

In our latest newsletter, we share an update on The Narwhal’s membership drive and unveil Going with the Flow, a new series on solutions to B.C.’s flood problems

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Wow, thank you and welcome aboard. Thirty-two (!) new Narwhals have joined our pod since we reached out yesterday to tell you about our September budget crunch. That means we’re nearly halfway toward our mission to add 182 new members this month to ensure we can keep producing the in-depth journalism you’ve come to expect from us. Will you help us produce fearless independent journalism by becoming a member today?

The on-the-ground reporting and photography we do here at The Narwhal takes lots of time and, frankly, money to pull off. That’s why pretty much nobody else is doing this kind of climate journalism — while keeping stories free for all to read.

If you believe in our mission to tell stories about Canada’s natural world that would otherwise go untold, please join our pod today for any amount you can afford.

Now, over to this week’s window into water woes…

“Vancouver has the worst air quality in the world right now,” reads a headline (or 10) every summer in the throes of fire season.

This past week was no different, as wildfires across the province and Washington state shrouded Vancouver in a thick layer of smoke — and uncertainty. It’s something that most people across B.C. have come to expect. And if such patterns suggest anything, it’s that the province hasn’t seen the end of flooding either.

Last fall, after a particularly dry summer, an atmospheric river tore through the province as dikes in the Fraser River failed to contain the flow, highlighting yet another problem: our existing infrastructure cannot survive what climate change is yet to bring.

So what can we do about it?  

This week, The Narwhal launched a five-part series called Going with the Flow looking at how we can restore nature to help tackle B.C.’s flooding problem.

To start things off, biodiversity reporter Ainslie Cruickshank dug into how restoring critical salmon habitat is good for the species and whole ecosystems — us humans included. 

“For young salmon, access to good floodplain habitat, where they can feed and grow, can make a crucial difference in their ability to survive as they head out to sea,” Ainslie writes. But when dikes are added to rivers like the Fraser, this habitat is lost and salmon are left with nowhere to escape a downpour. 

But there are solutions at hand, including upgrading from old dikes to more flexible flood gates that can better protect salmon and the communities along the Fraser.

First Nations and scientists have been telling us for a while that working with nature, not against it, can make us better prepared for what’s to come — whether it’s protecting disappearing wetlands in Southern Ontario that help with flood mitigation or building climate-resilient homes above flood levels in Manitoba.

With billions being poured into flood recovery in B.C., we’re taking a deep dive looking at the extent these nature-based solutions are being considered, and what’s getting in the way. 

Take care and keep your head above water,

Karan Saxena
Audience fellow


A Night with The Narwhal

Psst! Are you in the Greater Toronto Area and looking for something to do next Thursday, Sept. 22? Come out and celebrate our Ontario bureau’s first birthday at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema! We’ll look at some of our award-winning, on-the-ground visual journalism — including the work of photographer Amber Bracken, who will be in attendance.

Go here to grab your tickets today.


The Narwhal makes a new friend

Back in August, The Narwhal received an email from Evelyn’s dad, who told us that Evelyn had just turned five on July 24. Every birthday, she gets to choose somewhere to make a donation — and this year she wanted to do something for the environment. Being a fan of narwhals, she chose… The Narwhal!

We hope Evelyn, a brand new member of the pod, likes her birthday present!


This week in The Narwhal

A team of scientists with the Milne Ice Shelf in the Canadian Arctic in the background
After the collapse: checking for vital signs on a fading Arctic icescape
By Dustin Patar
At the extreme northern tip of the world, a team of scientists battles time and weather to ponder the aftereffects of a giant ice shelf collapse at Milne Fiord.

Kate Beaton's drawing of oil sands for her graphic novel
‘Money jail’: Cape Breton cartoonist Kate Beaton reflects on her time in the oilsands
By Denise Balkissoon
Nature trail or needed transit? Ontario’s Peel Region decides the future of an old railway line
By Fatima Syed
Photo of Jason Kenney
Alberta’s blessing, Alberta’s curse
By Drew Anderson


What we’re reading

The harrowing, heartbreaking reality of terminating a pregnancy for medical reasons

Emma Gilchrist, our formidable co-founder and editor-in-chief, recently penned a very personal and courageous story in The Globe and Mail. In her first-person account, The heartbreaking reality of terminating a pregnancy for medical reasons, Emma shares her experiences navigating a diagnosis that is rarely talked about.

“Thousands of Canadian women find themselves on the receiving end of grim diagnoses of life-limiting fetal anomalies each year,” Emma wrote in sharing the story on Twitter. “Yet most of us are silent, shamed into living our worst nightmares in the shadows. I hope this piece helps to change that.”

Go here to read the full piece.

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