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Teacher who saved Burnaby creek publishes book about experience

Mark Angelo fought for decades to restore Guichon Creek

This is a big time of year for Burnaby’s Mark Angelo.

For one, the salmon are now spawning in creeks and streams around the city – always a big highlight for a man who helped save salmon in Burnaby.

Angelo is the founder and chair of both BC Rivers Day and World Rivers Day, an event now embraced by millions of people in up to 100 countries. In 2009, Angelo was also appointed as the inaugural chair of the Rivers Institute at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, where he also ran the school’s fish and wildlife program. He is also a member of the Order of Canada.

Angelo has spent decades trying to restore fish habitat in Burnaby. Now, he’s published an illustrated children’s book entitled The Little Creek that Could; the story of a stream that came back to life.

The book tells the true story of a five-decade-long effort to restore Burnaby’s own Guichon Creek - and the story speaks to the fact that nature can heal itself, if only given a chance.

Angelo, as a young teacher, led the charge alongside students, teachers, and community members to restore a small urban creek – demonstrating to readers how the power of one can impact change.

“I’m excited about releasing a book aimed at children that tells a fascinating and inspirational story of events that transpired right here in our own community – and while the book focuses on just one of our local streams, I believe its key message about healing and restoring the environment is universal in nature, and will hopefully resonate with many regardless of where they might live,” said Angelo.

The book is illustrated by Ros Webb and comes in premium hardcover, paperback and eBook formats that can be found through Chapters-Indigo, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and more.

In the book, after discovering that a stream close to his school is polluted and lifeless, the teacher meets an elderly gentleman who explains how beautiful the creek once was and is inspired to return the creek to its original state. With the help of the community, including students and teachers, a major effort is launched to clean up the creek, eventually proving that nature can heal itself, if only given a chance.

For Guichon, efforts have successfully led salmon back to it. During the past three months, the City of Burnaby started a project to add a new culvert on the creek that allows fish to pass through it. BCIT students, in 2020, also completed a project to add a wetland area for wildlife.