Over the last few years A Rocha events in Ottawa have tended to be of an educational nature that involved an outdoor activity (e.g., wildflower walk) in Gatineau Park following by a potluck supper and a speaker on a theme related to creation care. Three years ago we also started a community garden at the University of Ottawa where we grow vegetables and then donate them to an inner city Christian organization that works with those in need. This year we have become involved in Citizen Science and participated in two programs in Gatineau Park which is a large federal nature park adjacent to Ottawa in the province of Quebec.

One program was the Common Loon Monitoring Program and the other program was an Invasive Species Removal Program. Both of these programs were joint initiatives of Gatineau Park which is managed by the National Capital Commission and the Friends of Gatineau Park. In June two people from A Rocha participated in the Common Loon Monitoring Program. They canoed the perimeter of Meech Lake recording sightings of the common loon. They observed a total of six loons in three different parts of the lake.

In September three people from A Rocha joined a larger group of people in pulling the invasive species periwinkle from an area near the Visitor Centre in Gatineau Park.

These initiatives reflect the 5Cs of A Rocha. Conservation: Both programs were concerned with conservation of species and/or the restoration of the natural environment. Community: through these activities we are developing good relationships within our A Rocha family and the local community. The periwinkle removal activity provided an opportunity to get to know others interested in citizen science and a meal after the event fostered opportunity to get to know the A Rocha family better. Cooperation: These activities enabled us to work in partnership with other organizations (Gatineau Park, Friends of Gatineau Park) who share our concern for a sustainable world. Cross-Cultural: The periwinkle removal was a bilingual event with francophones and anglopones participating.  Christian: the motivation for our involvement in these creation care activities is our Christian faith. In future years we hope to expand our involvement in these Citizen Science initiatives.

– Paul Heintzman