Antler River Cleanup serves as land acknowledgement in action
April 5, 2022
Members of the King’s community came together on April 4, 2022, to help the environment as part of the Antler River Cleanup. Many spent their lunch hour picking up litter on the King’s campus. The cleanup began with the patch of green space between Parking Lot 3 and University Crescent, before several members of the Cleanup turned their attention to the Thames River behind Alumni Court.
The group was led by Ron Hope, a third-year Social Justice and Peace Studies student who had a placement with the Antler River Rally through SJPS 3500E, Community Based Learning. As part of the experiential learning aspect of the course, Hope led in the organization of several cleanups across the city over the past several months. In November 2021, on behalf of the Antler River Rally, he spoke at the City’s Public Participation Meeting on the Budget to support a plan that would see electricity savings from the Greenway wastewater treatment plant invested in new programs to curb raw and partially treated sewage from being released into the Thames River/Deshkan Ziibi.
The Thames River Cleanup has taken place at King’s for over a decade, in partnership between the SJPS department, the SJPS Club and Antler River Rally, a community partner co-founded by Dr. Tom Cull, King’s Creative Writing professor, and Miriam Love, Academic Counsellor.
“It is important for all settlers to understand that Deshkan Ziibi (Thames River) is a living thing which supports thousands of organisms, including humans. We are all intersecting in negative ways with the river, but with the cleanup, we are giving back to the river that settlers have changed, altered, and polluted,” says Hope.
Hope says the King’s community needs “to be more mindful of how our actions can negatively impact the environment. We need put our garbage in the trash containers around campus and not the parking lot.”
Dr. Cull explains that these activities serve as “land acknowledgement in action” and connect us to the larger London community, including the original caretakers of the land. “We have to acknowledge the land itself and the reciprocal relationship we have with it,” he says.
Antler River Rally works with volunteers to clean up the Thames River, focusing on reducing the environmental impacts of waste, and creating a sustainable future.
Joshua MacNamara, a third-year philosophy student, says his research is reconceptualizing the relationship with nature and the environment. He took part because he realized “you have to take action rather than just sitting and thinking.”
For many of the participants, taking part in the Cleanup was an opportunity to improve the environment around King’s. “I think there is a sense of community, with people coming with a shared purpose,” says Love.
Love was joined by her Academic Counsellor colleagues Laura Clarke and Claire Hass. “It’s a nice day, spring is here, and it’s nice to be able to help clean up the campus,” Clarke says. Hass added that she wanted to pitch in and help with her colleagues and students.
Anna Badillo ’17, a teaching assistant with SJPS, brought her brother Marco, who is autistic. “He likes to clean at home and thought he might like to do the same here,” she says.
Emily Carrothers, Campus and Community Social Worker, enjoyed being able to contribute to the King’s campus. “It’s a great cause and a great way to get outside,” she says.
King's is committed to being environmentally sustainable. This includes building the environmental awareness and literacy of the campus community and continually working to improve our environmental performance. Please visit the Environment and Sustainability page, which showcases some of the ways that King's is green.