Elder Dorothy Taylor of Curve Lake First Nation leads a sacred water teaching at the Peterborough Children's Water Festival in 2023. (Photo: Lili Paradi)

Elder Dorothy Taylor of Curve Lake First Nation leads a sacred water teaching at the Peterborough Children’s Water Festival in 2023. (Photo: Lili Paradi)

By: GreenUP

The 22nd Anniversary of the Peterborough Children’s Water Festival (PCWF) will return to Riverview Park and Zoo on May 28th and May 29th, 2024, and it is gearing up to be a big splash.

The PCWF, since 2002, has welcomed 30,388 elementary students and 6,684 teachers and parent helpers to celebrate water and their relationship with it.

The 2024 Water Festival is fully subscribed, and will see 1,300 students in grades 2 to 5 over two days.

Each year, the PCWF strives to add new educational elements, particularly those that centre the cultural significance of water in our community.  

PCWF Steering Committee member Mike Mooney is Learning Consultant supporting Indigenous Education, Science and Social Studies at Peterborough Victoria Northumberland Clarington Catholic District School Board. According to Mooney The area we refer to as Peterborough continues to be known as Nogojiwanong in Anishinaabemowin, by the Mich Saagiig Anishinaabe. In this place we are deeply connected to water. By virtue of living in this place, we all have treaty responsibilities and rights. In an attempt to better understand those responsibilities and rights, the PCWF is taking steps to value and infuse Indigenous knowledge.”

This year, the PCWF is posing two very important and simple questions to all involved in the PCWF:

How does water take care of me?

How do I take care of water?

Students at the Peterborough Children’s Water Festival participating in the settler water Race, where they examine the importance of water to the survival and success of area settlers. (Photo: Jessica Todd)

Students at the Peterborough Children’s Water Festival participating in the settler water Race, where they examine the importance of water to the survival and success of area settlers. (Photo: Jessica Todd)

These questions are inspired and guided by Elder Dorothy Taylor of the Sacred Water Circle and member of Curve Lake First Nation. Taylor will be in attendance to offer a Sacred Water Teaching to all attendees. Students will be invited to consider these questions before, during, and after the festival, culminating in a raindrop art project.

The PCWF will also welcome new community-led activity centres to this year’s event, including the Library, as their Summer Reading Challenge theme for 2024 is Water. The Library team will be spreading the word about how to register for the challenge, and all the fun ways kids can collect incentives and win prizes for reading.

“The Peterborough Public Library is thrilled to attend the Peterborough Children’s Water Festival for the first time.” Says Laura Murray, Community Development Librarian at Peterborough Public Library. “We will have the library book bike, packed with water themed books… Kids are welcome to leaf through books and enjoy a bit of relaxing time in the shade, and we will also have some quotes on hand to inspire watery conversations!”

Karen O’Krafka, GreenUP’s PCWF Coordinator states “Some learners need a calm oasis within the busy festival. I am thrilled that within the frenetic pace of the festival, there can be an activity centre that acts as an island of calm. The Library’s book nook can support the diverse needs of students including neurodiverse students who may struggle with a busy pace and crowds, while also weaving water literacy into the festival.”

Volunteers from partner organizations, community, and local high schools are essential to the success of the PCWF. It is truly a community effort.

Students at the Peterborough Children’s Water Festival perform tests on various everyday liquids to understand the concept of acidity and how changes in acidity can impact lake environments. (Photo: Jessica Todd)

Students at the Peterborough Children’s Water Festival perform tests on various everyday liquids to understand the concept of acidity and how changes in acidity can impact lake environments. (Photo: Jessica Todd)

Want to participate even if you are not in grades 2-5? Here are a few ways to bring some PCWF activities and #WaterWednesday into your home this May:

  1. Be a Water Watcher, not a Water Waster. Become an “Inspector H2O” and explore your home to note where water enters and exits (your taps, drains, etc). Check each tap closely to ensure that you spot zero leaks or drips!
  2. Race against the Clock! Start a friendly competition in your household to see who can be the cleanest, yet have the shortest shower. Use a handy kitchen timer (or timer on your phone) to track how long you are in the shower. Live alone? Each time you shower try to decrease your time by one minute!
  3. Show your Gratitude for Water. When you first use water in the morning (brushing your teeth, filling the kettle) say thank you/miigwech to water four times. Then, cut out a paper water droplet shape and colour or paint a message of gratitude to water.

And speaking of gratitude, on behalf of the PCWF Steering Committee – Thank you, Nogojiwanong, for supporting Water Education.

The Peterborough Children’s Water Festival (PCWF) is a community event for children in Grades 2 to 5. The PCWF provides students with the opportunity to discover the importance and diversity of water. The PCWF works in partnership with educators, water quality and quantity specialists, community volunteers, conservation groups, industry and government to create a festival full of activities that are educational and fun. To support this work with a donation, or to learn more, please visit pcwf.net or email info@pcwf.net.