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Save Our Seine marks 30 years of environmental stewardship in Winnipeg

Year after year, bag after bag, volunteers with Save Our Seine have worked each summer since 1994 in order to ensure the Seine River in Winnipeg is free from as much garbage, refuse and other debris along the 26-kilometre stretch of water and greenway.

Each summer, Save Our Seine hires a number of teens and young adults aged 15-29 to perform the clean-ups, scouring the meandering waterway via canoe with an ample application of mosquito repellant.

On Thursday, those efforts were celebrated at John Bruce Park along the banks of the Seine, where members of the group partook in a BBQ.

Monique Ellison is the summer team coordinator with Save Our Seine this year, she says the work is really rewarding, and it’s made even better through the comradery fostered each summer.

“I think some of my favourite things, honestly, are the friendships you make with the team,” Ellison said. “We’re in such close quarters, in our truck, and in our canoe. We smell gross, we’re dirty, and you end up building really good friendships with the people on your team.”

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And while the work can be demanding at times, the payoff is seeing people getting out and enjoying the river itself year-round.

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“I really enjoy watching people enjoy the Seine River and use it,” explained Ellison. “There’s people that come here and use the canoe launch every single day. Even in the winter people come, they’re using the Seine Rver, they’re walking on it, they’re building skating rinks, it’s just such a beautiful place to be.”

As for strange items found in the river? For Ellison it’s a no-brainer.

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“My favourite thing that came out of the river was a baby doll,” said Ellison. “I ended up keeping the head, and it’s now hanging in my moms car.”

Managing director of Save Our Seine, Ryan Palmquist, says unfortunately there’s never a shortage of garbage in the Seine, and that’s why their teams come back every single summer.

“One of the things we want to emphasize to the community is that tremendous work has been done in cleaning up the Seine,” Palmquist said. “But every single year we bring staff out, the trash is back.”

Part of the reason members of Save Our Seine are able to continuously come back each year is thanks to grants and partnerships with community members. Without them, Save Our Seine couldn’t continue.

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“What we need most of all, like many non-profits, is financial support. Our grants, we’re grateful for them, but they are never fully secured,” explained Palmquist.

“We are constantly struggling to keep this operation funded. So what we need are contributions from individual citizens, and the stakeholders I was talking about in the community.”

For anyone looking to assist Save Our Seine either as a volunteer or financially, Palmquist says all the information can be found on their website.

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