By Sasha Benevides, Festival Coordinator; and, Norm Miller, Communications Advisor
If you’ve been anywhere in Halton, or even in Hamilton and Mississauga, you’ve probably seen them. Beautifully painted, wooden fish, ‘swimming’ together, attached to a fence beside a school. Sometimes you can find them beside a park, but most often they’re beside a school.
These wooden fish murals are a reminder to those who painted them (predominantly children) of the fish and other creatures who live in the creeks and streams in their community, and how important it is for us to protect their home.
This message is what Stream of Dreams is mainly about, protecting our creeks, lakes, rivers and streams for the fish and other creatures who live there and don’t have a voice. It is a reminder that what goes down the storm drain on your street will end up in those bodies of water. So for example, if you live in Burlington and dump a quart of motor oil down the storm drain, rather than disposing it at the proper waste management site for appropriate recycling, chances are it’s going to Lake Ontario!
Stream of Dreams was launched by Conservation Halton in 2006, when it became the first program outside British Columbia, where it was created. Conservation Halton has delivered Stream of Dreams to more than 70 schools and groups reaching 28,000 (28768 to be exact) students and people in the community since launching in 2006.
Each elementary school that participates is required to pay $5 a student and do a lot of work before Conservation Halton’s Stream Team arrives in the school. They prepare and cut their fish so every student and teacher can paint their dream fish. The schools receive a template to ensure they properly cut their salmon, pike and sunfish and more.
The appeal of the program to schools is Conservation Halton’s Stream Team customizes their stream talk so the students learn about the creek or stream in their community. In addition, they ensure the talk is geared to the students they’re presenting to so the message relates to students from kindergarten to grade 8. No matter the age, the students are interested and engaged!
Once their stream talk is complete the students go into the painting room to complete their one of a kind dreamfish which will go on the fence to remind them and everyone in the school community of the important message they just heard.
This year Conservation Halton is celebrating the tenth year of bringing Stream of Dreams to its watershed and will be visiting ten schools starting in April 2015. If you’re interested in bringing Stream of Dreams to your school, please contact Conservation Halton. We are always looking for donations of plywood and volunteers to cut fish as well. You can call us at 905-336-1158 or send an e-mail to our Stream of Dreams Coordinator.
About Stream of Dreams
The Stream of DreamsTM Program brings awareness to communities about their local watersheds through environmental education and stunning public artwork. The goal of the program is to improve water quality, while at the same time creating a community art legacy as a reminder of our environmental responsibilities.
The program originated in Burnaby, British Columbia where it is administered by the Stream of Dreams Murals Society. Conservation Halton is proud to be the first organization to officially bring the program to Ontario and to our watershed! There are Stream Teams in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.