“We saw plastic.”

It was a pretty matter-of-fact response, the sort you come to expect from a child of just eight years. She’s not seen enough in the world to be anything but a straight shooter.

“There is plastic blighting this lake, Frame Lake, in the heart of the city, and it should be picked up. There’s no reason it can’t be me,” her developing mind thought to itself, probably in fewer syllables.

So Ryelle Whitford got a meeting with Mayor Rebecca Alty and now a whole bunch of grown-ups are gearing up to take part in a community cleanup of the lake’s shore tomorrow, Aug. 12, starting at 4:30 p.m.

Rio Tinto, which operates the Diavik Diamond Mine, is getting involved, too. The company has issued a notice encouraging employees who are able to take part to do so, and Rio Tinto is pitching in some personal protective equipment to make sure it’s a safe event for all involved. Thumbs up for that.

You can almost feel Yellowknife’s heart grow two sizes as this sort of stuff is going on. Like a little Greta Thunberg, Ryelle has become an inspiration for would-be environmentalists of all shapes and sizes.

“A bunch of them are getting lost in the world,” she said of turtles that mistake plastics for food.

Who could resist something so adorable and morally unassailable at the same time?

This, of course, calls for kudos for the divers who pulled 419 kg of detritus from Great Slave Lake in a blitz of their own.

“We are united by the same goal and everybody works hard,” Henri Brown said of the rotating swarm of swimmers who jump in to help chip away at the group’s goal of pulling at least another 4,500 kg – that’s five old-fashioned Imperial short tons – out of the mighty lake before it freezes over again. It’s been done in the past: in 2018 volunteers harvested 4,877 kg of trash from Great Slave, and if the workout-worthy tire in the background of the photo in the story we published in the Aug. 6 Weekender is any indication, it will be done again in the future.

So be the change you want to see in the world, and show up for the community cleanup starting at the amphitheatre in Somba K’e Park tomorrow afternoon. Garbage bags and gloves will be provided, but wear some nice dry footwear so you can chase down trash in the water, too.

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