Vancouver, B.C. – Canadians across the country will get up close with the ocean and its wonderful, curious wildlife next year, regardless of where they live. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre’s award-winning mobile education program, AquaVan, will travel across the country from coast to coast for the first time in its 22-year history. AquaVan will visit cities big and small, and finish next fall with a homecoming in British Columbia. The tour, AquaVan 150: Connecting Communities to Coastlines, will focus on the impacts we’re having on our rivers, lakes and oceans and the role Canadians can lead to ensure they are healthy and abundant for future generations.
The nationwide tour is announced as part of Canada 150, an initiative of local, regional and national celebrations that will take place during Canada’s 150th year to mark this important milestone. Vancouver Aquarium’s AquaVan 150: Connecting Communities to Coastlines was selected as a signature national program by the Government of Canada to inspire pride and engage Canadians to care about our oceans. The travelling ocean education program is one more way Vancouver Aquarium is expanding its conservation efforts to even more Canadians, sparking joy for aquatic life and providing hopeful ways for people to connect with nature in an effort to also protect it.
“Canada’s landscape is diverse, from the snowy peaks of the Coast Mountain Range, to the endless horizons of the Prairies and east to the rocky shores of Nova Scotia. One thing that connects us all is the beautiful lakes, rivers and oceans that run through this nature-rich country. Their health, however, is increasingly threatened by overfishing, ocean pollution and climate change – key issues Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is tackling through our broader focus on engaging and activating Canadians on ways we can work together to protect the health of our waters,” said John Nightingale, CEO, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. “Vancouver Aquarium engages millions of people to care about our ocean each year. That spark of interest leads to direct participation in conservation programs like Ocean Wise® and the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup®. With this historic coast-to-coast tour, AquaVan hopes to inspire a nation to effect change and take action to protect our precious shores.”
AquaVan, a 32-foot, 5-tonne truck, houses some of the ocean’s most curious marine invertebrates, from sea cucumbers to crabs to sea stars. As the AquaVan travels from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, it will make 150 stops at schools, camps and community events along the way. Canadians of all ages will have an opportunity to get up close with these fascinating aquatic creatures, and gain a better understanding
of their ecosystems and what we can do to protect them. Programs will also cover topics including local history, regional environmental issues and connections to First Nations.
‘‘The 150th anniversary of Confederation gives Canadians the opportunity to get involved in their communities and to celebrate our majestic environment. Through the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre signature project, Canadians will become more aware of the conservation of aquatic environments and the historic importance of our waterways in the development of our country. Together, we will reaffirm our commitment to preserving the natural environment for the benefit of future generations,” said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage.
Hand in hand with conserving aquatic animals is helping to ensure they live in a clean environment. At each of the community events, visitors will be invited to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty to help clean a local shoreline.
A joint conservation initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF Canada, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw, aims to promote understanding of shoreline litter issues by engaging Canadians to rehabilitate shoreline areas through volunteer cleanups. Participants in the cleanup will collect debris off our shorelines to prevent pollution and plastics from entering waterways and damaging ecosystems and aquatic life. Data on the types of debris collected off shorelines will be catalogued and entered to the national Shoreline Cleanup database which tracks the type of debris collected, and the amount, for analysis. Communities will also be encouraged to “adopt a shoreline” and continue to care for it going forward, creating community ambassadors for change that will last long beyond AquaVan’s community visits.
‘‘The Connecting Communities to Coastlines project will awaken Canadians’ environmental awareness and showcase the unique regional aspects of aquatic environments. The 150th anniversary of Confederation is the perfect opportunity to encourage Canadians to invest in their community. Let’s take this time to develop a closer connection to nature!’” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Member of Parliament (North Vancouver) and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
The AquaVan 150: Connecting Communities to Coastlines tour will be tracked live at www.vanaqua.org and regular updates will be posted on Vancouver Aquarium’s AquaBlog and Vancouver Aquarium’s Facebook page. You may support this signature journey through a donation here.
Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and its AquaVan team is proud to be part of the Canada 150 celebrations and thanks the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Government of Canada for helping to fund the AquaVan 150: Connecting Communities to Coastlines tour.
Vancouver Aquarium AquaVan
The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is a non-profit society dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life. Vancouver Aquarium AquaVan, presented by BC Hydro, delivers award-winning aquatic programs to schools and communities throughout British Columbia, Alberta, and beyond. Since 1994, over 400,000 students and community members have shared an up-close and personal experience with live aquatic animals and discovered the connections we have with our natural environment. www.vanaqua.org
Note to editors: photos of the AquaVan and its programs are available on request.