At the end of August, a student from Howard S. Billings High School pedalled 603 km over 6 days in support of indigenous peoples.
Translation courtesy Amanda Bennett
As he took up the challenge to cycle from Montreal to Toronto, Zach Stabb’s goal was to raise $1500 for Water First, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing access to clean drinking water in Canada’s indigenous communities. He more than exceeded his goals; his efforts have amassed $6500 to date.
“In Canada, a 1st world country where we have more than 6% of the globe’s fresh water, I was shocked to learn that 20% of indigenous communities have a major water issue. Many children in these communities end up leaving home and going to university never having had a bath or a drink from their own water taps. I just don’t think that’s right,” the 16-year-old said.
He believes that Water First has a very practical and effective approach. “One of Water First’s main initiatives is to offer 8-month internships that allow young adults from these communities to obtain certification to become water network operators and/or environmental supervisors,” he explained. “The goal is for newly certified young adults to become stewards for their regions’ water systems and reduce their dependence on external resources.”
Zach Stabb’s journey was part of his studies within Billings’ International Baccalaureate program. “603kmforhope” was his school leaving personal project.
How did you learn about the cause?
« At the beginning of my project, I was looking for an issue that we were facing right here in Canada. I wanted to support a local cause where I could see the results of my efforts. I found out about the water quality issue in indigenous communities and I was shocked. How could this happen here in Canada? I wanted to know more. The more I learned about the issue, the more I knew it was the project that I wanted to support. »
What is your fondest memory of your journey?
That’s most certainly when I saw the CN Tower on the last day. I was so impressed- I couldn’t believe it. All these kilometres and obstacles, I was finally seeing the end of all my efforts.
What was the greatest hardship?
The last 25 km on my first day of 125 km was the toughest. I faced two downpours, a strong headwind and I didn’t eat enough on that day. I basically ran out of fuel and couldn’t function anymore. I was spaced out and I had more than 25 km to go. I finally finished my day and when I lay down on my bed at the hotel, I fell asleep right away.
You have more than exceeded your goal, what does that mean to you?
I am super happy about the success of the fundraiser – all the money raised goes directly to Water First. I want to thank everybody for their support. The project was a great success and I hope I can still play a role in bringing awareness to the issue. I received messages from people living in those affected communities and hopefully I can help fix the problem for them and others.