Watershed program still looking to fill vacancies

MANITOU RAPIDS—With a busy year rapidly coming to a close, the Rainy River First Nations’ watershed program, based at Manitou Rapids, won’t be taking much time off over the holidays.
With the departure of co-ordinator Martin Nantel and projects officer Catherine Warren, the acting co-ordinator is scrambling to find replacements before things start up in earnest in the new year.
Kiley Hanson currently is holding down the title of watershed co-ordinator and projects officer while trying to fill those vacancies.
She noted there usually are three project officers, but at the moment she’s manning the ship alone as the job search goes on.
Understandably, Hanson is more concerned these days with filling these vacancies than detailed planning for next year, but Tuesday she outlined some of its proposed projects.
“At the moment, I’m trying to get our staffing shortage addressed,” she said from her office at Manitou Rapids, acknowledging things are winding down for this year anyway.
“Our next big thing is the Man-O-Min watershed conference,” she added.
The annual conference addresses issues concerning the health of the Rainy River watershed and takes place over a period of four days. The site of the conference alternates between International Falls and Fort Frances.
Last year, it was held at Rainy River Community College in the Falls, so this year it will take place at La Place Rendez-Vous here on March 31-April 2.
There also will be a community presentation on March 30 at the Townshend Theatre here.
The lineup includes author Max Finklestein, and Chief Albert Hunter and Elder Annie Wilson from Rainy River First Nations.
A seminar entitled “What do we want the Rainy River basin to look like in 20 years?” will feature Tim Campbell (tourism), Mary Perala (forestry), and Gord Pyzer (fisheries).
There also will be a number of open-forum discussions led by these and other people.
Hanson said the watershed program will continue to promote and sponsor the kinds of projects it has been doing in the past: such as the eagle-monitoring program, adopt-a-river, stream rehab projects, and Earth Day.
Some of these actively involve school children from across the district.
In addition, there will be another summer science camp for children that will operate some time between mid-July and mid-August.
The watershed program is operated by a department of Rainy River First Nations.