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TELUS Social Impact
TELUS Social Impact

Environment

Paddle boarder's tireless effort to clean up Okanagan shorelines recognized

Apr 21, 2020

Vernon resident, Aaron Nasipayko, was hard to miss on Okanagan-area lakes this summer. With crates and cargo netting strapped to his paddleboard, he was regularly spotted collecting and hauling garbage from local shorelines.

Inspired to clean up Kalamalka and Okanagan lakes, Nasipayko started a movement called the Okanagan Paddle Project, posting photos and videos of the piles of garbage collected along the way. He identified spots where he knew trash had washed up, but he was not expecting to find the sheer volume of garbage – some had been there for years.

“These lakes connect us all – whether it’s business, or a place of serenity or a place to decompress – so that’s why I’m doing this. Because for me, it brings peace to my soul and I’m just giving back to the lakes what they give to me,” said Nasipayko.

On Kalamalka Lake alone, Nasipayko paddled over 150 kilometres. With support from six volunteers, the project collected 374 cans and over 14 bags of garbage from over 42 kilometres of shoreline. Eventually, the nature of this work took its toll on his gear and his paddleboard paid the price. Getting wind of the initiative, TELUS stepped up to sponsor the purchase of a new paddleboard to help him finish his mission.

"We'd been following Aaron's incredible pursuit of cleaning up our shorelines. For him to raise awareness about the mess people are leaving behind is incredible, he’s an inspiration,” said Colleen Dix, Senior Sustainability Manager, TELUS. "We wanted to support him and replace the board of his own that he destroyed trying to clean up our environment."

In addition to supporting Nasipayko’s efforts, TELUS partners with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, a national conservation program organized and supported by Ocean Wise and WWF-Canada.