By: Cynnoma Andrews

Megan, SJ and Cynnoma

Hello! My name is Cynnoma, I live in Whistler and I was honoured to join Megan and SJ on a day of connecting with locals in my community. I got to experience a day in their shoes, tagging along with them interviewing locals about their opinions on climate change effects in Whistler and how it impacts their day to day life.

We started our day by visiting and interviewing a well known glaciologist, geologist and local; Karl E.Ricker. His house was tucked in the forest, almost hidden away from the rest of the street. As we pulled in his driveway and got out of the car I could smell wood burning, filling the air with nostalgia for me.

 We approached the door and he welcomed us inside his home with a warm smile. We introduced ourselves and as we walked into his living room. I quickly noticed all the photos of mountains hanging on his wall and some antlers and tusks displayed on shelves and windows that I discovered later were gifted or traded to him from his travels around the world. 

After we sat down SJ began the interview by getting him to introduce himself and asked how long he lived in the area for, he started to share with us that he’d been living in Whistler on and off again for several years.

He earned his master of science in geology in 1959 but he took more of an interest in glaciology and studied the glaciers in Whistler and all over the world. He mentioned how he also started Whistler Naturalist’s Glacier Monitoring. As he was telling us stories about his life and answering questions, the thought of what that must have been like to experience living in a small town watching it all develop into something much bigger intrigued me. 

A lot of change and innovations have happened in his lifetime in the little town of Whistler. The mountains being his playground inspired in him a deep interest in understanding glaciers and the way the weather and mankind affect the environment. 

He wanted  to show us some photos of some of the glaciers he has found and studied, in and around Whistler. Exploring his house a bit more, I was in awe seeing all the different kinds of pieces he had collected from his experiences in life from ski passes to old maps of the mountains in Whistler. 

After interviews and a glimpse into his world we said our goodbyes and we headed to the village to interview some locals. I had suggested going to the Whistler Hat Gallery because I knew the woman that owns the store had lived in Whistler for a long time and I felt that she may have some good insight. 

She was open to interviewing, I was mostly distracted by hats at first but I was still listening. I heard her mention that when she was a child growing up here the amount of snow in Whistler was at least 10x more than what we have now. That confirmation shocked me because it is something I too have noticed after only living in Whistler for two years.

To continue our adventure, strolling through the village, we decided to go visit the Squamish lil’wat Cultural centre. Which for me feels like a second home. I took part in the Indigenous youth ambassador program (IYA) at the centre last year and I got to learn more about my culture, traditional teachings, and gain work experience in a number of departments in the building. 

Indigenous Youth Ambassadors at the SLCC

Being there comforted me by giving me the space to relate to people with the same beliefs on how important our connection to the land is and how our traditions protect the land and the people. During my time at the Squamish Lil’wat cultural centre I met Megan and SJ during their seminar about Science Communications training. They came to share with us their project goals with Waterlution and gave us a creative assignment to make a short video interviewing locals of Squamish and Lil’Wat nation who came into the centre to express their understanding for protecting waterways and practising traditional ways of controlling floods and wildfires. 

After finishing the IYA program I received an email from Megan asking me to join them on this experience. The behind the scenes experience today was a wonderful introduction and I really enjoyed the interviewing process more than I thought I would. 

Going up to people and asking them a bunch of questions can be nerve racking and takes a lot of courage from both ends. I enjoyed hearing people share their stories, interests, and concerns for the Earth. It was interesting to me to see the many different perspectives on waterways and climate change but also the similar connections between all of them which is an appreciation for the land whatever their interests and experiences are to the land. To me I found these moments really refreshing, special and beautiful.

I appreciate these climate change and waterways conversations. I believe it is important not to blame anyone or to continue to point the finger but taking initiative in influencing or at least bringing awareness to environmental factors are extremely important right now especially during this time when we can be easily disconnected from nature and people since the pandemic. I am excited to wait to see Waterlution take off in the future with their insight into either traditional or new innovative ways to help preserve the land for as long as possible. 

Tune into Waterlution’s blog for more stories on amazing innovations in the field of water sustainability, and local stories of resiliency in the face of climate change.

Cynnoma Andrews

Cynnoma Andrews is a graduate from the Indigenous Youth Ambassador Program at The Squamish Lil’Wat Center in Whistler BC. She grew up in White Rock and on the Sunshine Coast, born in Lethbridge Alberta. She was thrilled to be able to write and share her experience, this was her first time interviewing people and she appreciates Megan and SJ for letting her tag along.