16-year-old, Chateauguay resident, Zach Stabb drove 603 km on his bike this summer to raise awareness for the Indigenous Water Crisis.
The Grade 11 Howard S Billings student was assigned a project with one guiding principle: to make a positive impact in one way or another.
From the outset, Zach knew he wanted to highlight a problem that was close to home, and resolvable, in his own country. His research led him to the Indigenous Water Crisis in Canada. Upon learning that of the hundreds of First Nations communities across Canada, 20% lacked consistent access to clean water. It was a shock to learn that in a first world country like Canada, that has 6% of the world’s fresh water, that there were people living their daily lives without this essential resource. Zach now had the foundation for his project.
Zach decided to support Water First based in Creemore, Ontario. They are an organization focused almost exclusively on providing relief for water issues to affected communities all throughout the country. They also offer a 15-month course to young Indigenous adults and train skilled workers to manage local water systems.
He set out to expose this problem to as many people as possible, and for them to contribute all in their own way, whether it be informing a family member, donating to Water First or simply just supporting the cause.
With the support of his family, he started his 603 km Trek. Day one was actually the hardest part both physically and mentally for Zach. It was the longest day kilometre wise; he had not eaten quite enough and there was a severe thunderstorm chasing him.
Despite the challenges Zach stayed motivated by thinking about everyone that was following and supporting his journey. His dad accompanied him by driving the van with supplies. Along the way they joined a few biking clubs which he credits with making the total experience so much better. Several local newspapers carried stories of the teen passing through their towns and were very receptive and encouraging.
The moment that will stay with Zach for the rest of his life, is the first time the CN Tower came into view. Seeing a speck in the distance, and then realizing what it was, was at first unbelievable. “I realized, how close I truly was, all the work, all the late nights researching, the aches and pains of training, it had all come down to what I was doing just then. It was an unbelievable feeling, it didn’t feel real, I had gotten so used to biking that I forgot that it had to end. Seeing my family at the end, finally laying down my bike for the final time, with no ground left to make. It was just the immediate feeling of utter success and happiness.”
Montérégie West Community Network (MWCN)