Want to Work With Wildlife?
W: How did you first find out about the raw sewage flowing into the LaHave river?
SB: My mom told me. We needed to replace our septic system that was old and she said that she thought it was wrong that people still had straight pipes. I asked, “What are straight pipes?” and I was so shocked and upset when she explained what they were. They’re pipes that take all the wastewater in your house — from sewage to water from your laundry — and put that dirty water right into the river through a pipe. My river has over 600 of these illegal straight pipes.
W: Does it affect the habitat at all or the wildlife that live there?
SB: Yes. The LaHave River was very full of salmon. The salmon numbers have dropped a lot. I know that people still fish in our river, but there is no way I would eat anything out of the LaHave River.
W: I know you reached out to the public and to government. What made you take action?
SB: After my first testing results, I felt I had to warn people. I saw a lot of people swimming in the LaHave and I was scared someone would get sick.
W: How much time did it take for you to get the word out and for you to see some action?
SB: It all happened really fast actually. I begged my mom to make a community Facebook page. She initially said no, but then she said ok, as long as she could control it and I am not allowed to post anything on it without her. I thought I may get 100 people on my Facebook page, but it really exploded and I have over 3,200 followers and some of my posts have reached over 50,000 people.
After that, I spoke at schools and at community events, and I got in the newspaper and on TV.
W: What have you learned about yourself?
SB: I can make a difference. I have learned that I have a voice and can make the world a better place. I really enjoy science, environmental studies and even politics. I am not sure what I will be when I grow up, but I think this will lead me to where I am supposed to be. I know that I have a lot of work to do. I am just getting started.
W: What’s next for you? Do you have another conservation issue you want to work on?
SB: I really want the provincial government to enforce all illegal straight pipes in our province. This is a problem beyond my river. It just seems so silly that nothing is being done to fix this problem.
I am also looking at training other kids around Nova Scotia and giving them testing kits for their own rivers. This is just in the beginning stages, but I think it would be awesome to have an army of us kids testing the waters and sharing results on social media for everyone to see. Kids are powerful!