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Panel to discuss saving Lake Winnipeg

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Jim and Luella Stephens of John Black United Church are shown outside the church.

PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON Enlarge Image

Jim and Luella Stephens of John Black United Church are shown outside the church. Photo Store

An upcoming panel will discuss how people can help Lake Winnipeg.

The Green Interest Group at John Black Memorial United Church (898 Henderson Hwy.) is holding a discussion called Lake Winnipeg: Hope for the Future at the church on April 5. The event will take place from 1 to 3 p.m., and will include a talk about the root causes of what is threatening Lake Winnipeg, and what citizens can do to help turn the tide of pollution.

Former provincial Minister of Water Stewardship and Conservation Bill Blaikie will moderate the discussion, while panelists include University of Manitoba visiting scholar Dr. Paul Vogt from the political science department, soil science professor Dr. Don Flaten from the U of M, and Alexis Knispel Kanu, the executive director of the Lake Winnipeg Foundation.

Green Interest Group chair Luella Stephens said the church has been involved in environmental issues for the past 40 years, with water quality and availability being a driving issue for the United church on a national level.

Stephens and her husband, Jim, have a cabin on Lake Winnipeg just north of Gimli, and say going in the water doesn’t make up their summertime experience.

"We won’t put a finger in," she said. "We’ve owned a cottage for 11 years and we won’t put a toe in the water.

"It frightens me when you see the blue-green algae and the little kids paddling away in the water."

She said she’s also seen major shore erosion in the time the family has owned the cottage.

But Stephens explained even with the concerning state of the lake — it was named the Global Nature Fund’s most threatened lake in 2013 — she hopes the thrust of the discussion revolves around what can be done to bring it back to what it can be, including information like lawn-care techniques and products that can be used with lake safety in mind.

"We all have a role we can do, even if it’s small, and we’re not scientists, most of us," she said. "People are beginning to talk about Lake Winnipeg and learn about it. I think we have to be educated so if we want to take action, we know what we’re talking about and have concern."

Though the event is free, organizers request that anyone interested in attending pre-registers by emailing jblackuc@mymts.net or calling 204-661-2579.

The Green Initiative Group started last year, and held its inaugural panel discussion on organic gardening and similar initiatives.

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