Peterborough Children’s Water Festival

May 5th, 2022

Group listening to Elder Dorothy speak

Elder Dorothy Taylor of Oshkigamong/Curve Lake First Nation explains the materials she uses to perform an Anishinaabe Water Ceremony at the confluence of Jackson Creek and the Otonabee River. Students from St. Anne’s Catholic Elementary School observe as part of a 2020 (pre-COVID) watershed tour with GreenUP’s Wonders of Water program.

By Karen O’Krafka, Education Programs Coordinator at GreenUP

“There’s water in the sea and there’s water in me.

There’s water flowing down the old Otonabee.

Sitting by the water what a peaceful sound.

It’s a never-ending cycle going round and round and round.

It’s time for water Wednesday Hip Hip Hooray.

Let’s make a big splash what do you say?

Flowing through Peterborough down the water way.

Hip Hip Hooray for Water Wednesday.”

This week we begin a month of Water Wednesdays. The new Peterborough Children’s Water Festival theme song penned by the Paddling Puppeteer Glen Caradus perfectly encapsulates the magic of our second virtual festival.

Recorded beside the fast-flowing spring melt of Jackson Creek, the video of Glen’s song captures both the energy and the themes of this May’s online water education celebration.

Like last year’s festival, each week will begin with banjo fingers flying and tongue twisting around the rich and diverse themes of water education. The fully-booked festival will welcome 100 grade 2 to 5 classes from across Peterborough City and County to tune in for a weekly injection of local water education.

Glen’s sing along will launch each day of our incredible 2022 festival line up. Our line-up features local water heroes and familiar faces. Elder Dorothy Taylor from Oshkigamong /Curve Lake First Nation and Shaelyn Wabegijig from Kawartha World Issues Centre will begin the festival in a good way.

Students will be inspired by many other engaging appearances during the four weeks of programming, including the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, Otonabee Conservation, the Atlantic Salmon Education team at the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Riverview Park and Zoo Education team, the Peterborough Utilities Water Treatment Plant, and the City of Peterborough Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Last May, we launched our first-ever online Peterborough Children’s Water Festival. It was a huge success, attended by 1,500 students. That success is because the virtual festival offers a unique opportunity for students to get to know local water experts.

“In addition to the practical knowledge that students obtained from presentations, I believe the variety of speakers provided the opportunity for students to hear from others who have a passion for water,” shares Tanya Hunter from Roseneath Public School. “These experts presented many different aspects of the importance of water. This is valuable because students don’t always get to hear from people who are truly passionate about a cause; this can be the spark to ignite their own passions, and if not a career with water, they see modelled how people make careers of passions.”

“The magic of the festival every Wednesday,

Meeting water heroes throughout the month of May.

Culture, Conservation, Science Protection too

Each week a new adventure with Julius and crew.”

Host Julius the Turtle welcomes water heroes from across the region. A highlight of this second annual online festival will be virtual field trips across the Otonabee Watershed, including a stop at the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC) located in Peterborough.

Julius and all our grade 2 to 5 students will join Wendy, the OTCC’s education coordinator, for a backstage tour of the OTCC’s vital efforts to protect and conserve Ontario’s native turtles and their habitat. Students will discover what really happens at a turtle hospital that treats, rehabilitates, and releases injured turtles.

A visit to the OTCC is not the only new addition to this year’s festival. Also new this year, the magic of the festival is enhanced with classroom kits for registered classes. With the incredible coordination of PCWF steering committee members Shawna Corcoran and Cathy Mitchell, zoo volunteers assembled 100 classroom kits for distribution. These kits support learning in tangible ways and invite reflection on our water festival pillars.

“In Ojibway it’s Nibi in French it’s L’eau.

We all live downstream in a never-ending flow.

Water gives us life, yes this we know

A solid, liquid, gas called H2O.”

Grounding students’ understanding that “Water is Life” is vital to inspiring our love and protection. Each classroom kit contains a book celebrating Indigenous water protectors.  The book Water Walker celebrates Josephine Mandamin. Elder Dorothy Taylor is a local water walker who joined with Josephine on a number of walks hosted by the Sacred Water Circle. Elder Dorothy Taylor will share with students her understanding of the life force of Nibi and the need to take action, including offering daily gratitude for water.

H20 To Go Kit in the GreenUP Store & Resource Centre

As part of GreenUP’s Wonders of Water program, these portable H20 to Go kits bring the fun educational activities of the Peterborough Children’s Water Festival to your home, community group, or classroom. Rentals are $25 per week. Contact leif.einarson@greenup.on.ca if you wish to rent a kit.

As we water young minds at the festival, grade 2’s and 3’s will be watering seeds to reveal the life-giving forces of water. They will monitor soil moisture with moisture metres donated by the Peterborough Utilities Group.  Grade 4’s and 5’s will try a water treatment experiment, using alum like that used at water and waste water treatment plants to help flocculate suspended solids out of water. They will be able to share their successes with Kent Keeling, Chief Environmental Officer for the City of Peterborough and long-time PCWF steering committee member.

“Racing through the watershed to Lake Ontario

Creeks streams and rivers through our watersheds they flow.

Peterborough County, Nogojiwanong

Let’s celebrate Nibi with our water Wednesday song.”

The injection of learning over the course of a month also provides an opportunity to become more aware of our local watershed. This awareness reinforces important learnings and inspires behavioural change. We will wrap up each festival day with an invitation for students to explore their own relationship to water, equipped with more knowledge to improve their impact on water.

The festival works in partnership with educators, water quality and quantity specialists, community volunteers, conservation groups, as well as representatives from industry and government to create a festival full of activities that are educational and fun.

Shaelyn Wabegijig, Program and Outreach Coordinator with Kawartha World Issues Centre smiling outside

Shaelyn Wabegijig, Program and Outreach Coordinator with Kawartha World Issues Centre, will be helping to begin the Peterborough Children’s Water Festival in a good way.

This year’s festival is possible thanks to an amazing list of supporters and benefactors, includes the City of Peterborough, Peterborough Utilities, TD Friends of the Environment, Kawartha Credit Union, Siemens, Ontario Power Generation, Trent University, Herb Lang Drilling, and other festival donors.

To find out more or financially support, please visit pcwf.net or email info@pcwf.net.

Posted in water


City of Peterborough

City of Peterborough

Peterborough Utilities Group

Peterborough Utilities Group

Trent University

Trent University



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Peterborough Children’s Water Festival

Peterborough Children’s Water Festival