Community members in the Cowichan Valley are making 84,000 fish rubbings to honour the estimated 84,000 juvenile steelhead trout, lake trout, cutthroat trout, and other species that died in the Cowichan River in July 2023 due to environmental stress.  We are creating collagraph prints by gluing cut-out fish shapes to cardboard and rubbing these shapes onto long rolls of brown craft paper with wax crayons. 

We are honouring the water, fish and their watershed habitats as we:

  1. visualize the number 84,000 and begin to comprehend the immensity of the loss of life 
  2. grow skills to stay present in ourselves when grief arises while growing bonds of connection and healing in community 
  3. express and honour our love of the natural world and our place in it 
  4. learn from facts and factors that contribute to this kind of ecological disaster 
  5. encourage dialogue and other forms of stewardship actions we can take individually and collectively 

The rubbings will form part of an outdoor event on World Rivers Day, September 22, 2024, and they will be on display in the Cowichan Valley Arts Council Gallery in Duncan between September 30-October 19. We intend to host witnessing circles and other opportunities to be present with the work at the gallery.

Join us to celebrate our relationships with fish, water, and other watershed kin!

Donate new and used crayons at plentiFILL (163 Kenneth Street, Duncan) and at the Cowichan Branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library (2867 James Street, Duncan).

Participate at events from April through September 2024. Check back soon for more events near you!

  • April 3, 2024: Stth’lhnamut sqw’ulum (First Salmon Ceremony)
  • April 4, 2024: CVAC Art Exhibit opening
  • April 11, 2024: Lake Cowichan School Health Fair
  • April 21, 2024: Xpey Planting Day
  • April 21, 2024 from 1:00 – 4:00 PM: B’Earth Day, Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre, 1845 Cowichan Bay Road
  • April 22 and April 23: Project 84,000 Collagraphic Plate-making Workshop at Vimy Hall, 3968 Gibbons Road
  • May 1, 2024: Art for Wellness Youth Event, CVAC
  • May 8-10, 2024: Honouring Community Grief workshop
  • May 13, 2024 from 6:30-7:00 PM: Pre-Event Activity to Cowichan Watershed Board Speaker’s Series
  • May 15, 2024: Cowichan Tribes Annual Open House, Si’em Lelum Gymnasium, Duncan
  • May 25, 2024: Cowichan Valley Climate Solutions Expo, The Hub at Cowichan Station, 2375 Koksilah Road
  • June 8, 2024: Lake Days, Lake Cowichan
  • July 1, 2024: Canada Day at Lake Cowichan
  • July 6, 2024 from 11:00-12:00: Mural unveiling at Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre
  • July 13, 2024: Duncan Days
  • July 16, 2024: Cowichan Stewardship Roundtable Summer Picnic at Stoltz Pool Provincial Park
  • July 19, 2024 from 10:30-11:30 AM: Children’s program (ages 5-12 welcome) at Cowichan Branch of the Vancouver Island Library
  • July 20, 2024 from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM: Celebrating Water Festival – Weir All Connected, Saywell Park, Lake Cowichan
  • July 27, 2024: CVAC outdoor art market
  • August 17, 2024: Duncan Farmers Market
  • September 22, 2024: World Rivers Day

For more information or to request an activity kit for your next event or classroom, contact: 

  • Jennifer Shepherd, Community Researcher, Xwulqw’selu Connections, (236) 800-9011 
  • Judy Brayden, Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society,

Founding Community Partners

Community Supporters: Contributed materials, venues, funding, human resources, or other project supports

Participating Schools, Camps and Groups

  • Alexander Elementary School
  • Sunrise Waldorf School
  • Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre
  • Cowichan Preschool
  • Cowichan Secondary School’s Environmental Stewardship Class
  • Cowichan Watershed Board
  • École Cobble Hill
  • Maple Bay Elementary School
  • Palsson Elementary School
  • Providence Farm
  • Shawnigan Lake Montessori Preschool and Childcare
  • Shawnigan Lake School
  • Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society
  • St. John’s Academy Shawnigan Lake
  • Sunrise Waldorf School
  • The Grove


“Cowichan River Fish Mortality Event Summer 2023 – Impacts to fish and how to avoid a repeat” Slide presentation to Cowichan Watershed Board on January 29, 2024, by Mike McCulloch, Anadromous Fisheries Specialist with BC Fisheries, West Coast Region, BC Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship. Available at:

Media Stories

The Discourse: Community Project Honours 84,000 Fish That Died in Cowichan River, published April 18, 2024

CTV News Vancouver: Community mourns thousands of fish lost as B.C. drought risk looms again, published May 8, 2024 

CBC News: Drought signs raise fears of another fish die-off in B.C. rivers, published May 8, 2024

Canada’s National Observer: Vancouver Island community mourns fish lost as B.C. drought again heightens risk, published May 8, 2024

Vancouver Sun: Community mourns thousands of fish lost as B.C. drought risk looms again, published May 8, 2024

Cowichan Valley Citizen: Coming up in Cowichan, published May 8, 2024

CBC Radio Victoria – All Points West with Jason D’Souza – Community art project raises environmental awareness by honouring fish that died in the drought-stricken Cowichan River last summer