PASSION & HISTOIRE BLOG- Earth Day in Saint-Boniface

Kenza Zaoui - translated by Thea Wortley

April 22, today, is globally recognized as Earth Day. The initiative dates back to 1970 and has been taken up by 193 countries, with the goal of encouraging everyone to reflect on their environmental impact and how they can help take care of our planet. Seems like a good time to ask those same questions about Saint-Boniface! 

Nature in Saint-Boniface

There are many options if you’re looking for nature spots in Saint-Boniface. 

First, there are of course the Red and Seine Rivers. Both have walking paths along their riverbanks that are perfect for views of the water and the trees, letting you forget altogether that you’re in the middle of the city. 

Next, we have the parks: Coronation Park, Whittier Park, Provencher Park, Lagimodière-Gaboury Park, Morier Park, and more still are all right here in Saint-Boniface. 

On the way out of Saint-Boniface, head towards Saint-Vital and you’ll find an urban forest that I love: Bois-des-Esprits.

Wildlife in Saint-Boniface

Saint-Boniface has an impressively diverse range of wildlife. On its urban side you’ll find the same sorts of animals that you would in pretty much any other Canadian city: raccoons, squirrels, skunks, rabbits, and deer, but also the occasional coyotes, red foxes, bats, and small rodents. 

The closer you get to the water, whether it be the Red River or the Seine, the better chance you have of seeing the animals that tend to live around there: beavers, muskrats, and otters. There are even some turtles too. 

And for all you ornithologists, Saint-Boniface is a dream with no less than 250 different bird species that nest in or pass through the neighbourhood during their migration! Geese, ducks,  shorebirds (plovers, knights, snipes), songbirds (such as sparrows or warblers), hawks, buzzards, falcons, eagles, and owls. 

Personally… I haven’t had much luck: I’ve really only ever seen geese and rabbits! But I’ll be keeping an eye out for all the creatures on this list for my future walks. It’s especially fun to try and find their footprints in the snow. 

Environmental Risks in Saint-Boniface

One of the questions that I’ve been pondering is what are the environmental risks we can expect in the next few years and what can we do to try and stop them?

It’s obviously no surprise that urban development can have a very negative impact on an ecosystem, reducing the natural habitat of numerous species. Luckily, we still have a few parks and islands of greenery. 

The Seine River as well as the Red each have their own bypass channel to try and avoid Spring floods. But in the context of nature, it should be aquatic plants who carry this responsibility, slowing down the flow of the water. Therefore, the riverbanks belong to a category of at-risk ecosystems that need our attention. For us, this means staying on the path when walking along Whittier Park or the Gabrielle-Roy trail. 

I highly recommend walking along the Red River, starting at Fort Gibraltar. At the very end of this greenway, you’ll find the spot where the Seine River flows into the Red. Just like its big sister, the Seine is also one of few rivers to flow from the south to the north! 

Initiatives to be Taken

If environmental concerns are of interest to you, there are lots of ways for you to help:

  • Pick up litter this weekend, Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th, as well as May 1st. Sign up on the Saint-Boniface COPP website here.
  • Partake in the Save our Seine initiatives.
  • Practice the Leave No Trace strategy: don’t leave anything behind in nature other than your footsteps, and take from it nothing but pictures.
  • Be mindful at home with everyday things like lights and water consumption. Every little gesture has an impact.

Thank you to Jacques Bourgeois, director of marketing and communications at Oak Hammock Marsh, for graciously answering my questions as an observer of the area!