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Keeping it clean for Burnaby's Eagle Creek

A group of residents in North Burnaby got busy cleaning up creek area

Burnaby resident Lubna Abdelrahman organized her North Burnaby housing complex to clean up garbage around Eagle Creek recently.

Abdelrahman, who runs a local market for immigrant women to sell things, got a grant from the South Burnaby Neighbourhood House for a community-building project.

She decided to organize a cleanup after hearing criticism from workers who were picking up neighbourhood trash.

"They say: The problem comes from your building, the people throw stuff in the street," Abdelrahman said, adding they were right. "I thought: OK, it's a good idea for me to build an education session."

Abdelrahman went doorto-door, inviting people to join the cleanup, and she enlisted help from the Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation, which runs her complex, and the Eagle Creek streamkeepers, a volunteer group that has worked for years to rehabilitate the stream.

Lots of people attended, especially kids.

"It was huge, you can't believe it," Abdelrahman said.

The first part of the event included an educational session with the kids, who learned about the fish-bearing creek and the importance of keeping it clean. (Many of the kids were surprised to learn there were fish in Eagle Creek.)

Then there was lunch, and the kids were taught how to pick up garbage. The group cleaned up and down both sides of the creek.

Many kids approached Abdelrahman afterwards, thanking "Aunty Lubna" for the experience and expressing remorse for littering.

Nick Kvenich of the Eagle Creek Streamkeepers said neighbourhood garbage by the creek has been an issue for years, and the streamkeepers have left educational pamphlets at the housing complex but gave up on their efforts to change people's habits.

"This thing with Lubna and her group is such a good step forward," he said.

Kvenich walked the kids down to the water to show them some trout, and the children were "unbelievably excited."

"Through the education process, they get to realize there are fish there that they've never seen before," he said. "People can gain a better appreciation of keeping the creek clean."