Newcomers share knowledge, passion for Coquitlam River

Originally from Iran, the family has taken an interest in the local river

A family of relative newcomers to Coquitlam is setting down roots by volunteering for environmental projects in support of the Coquitlam River.

Led by father Vahed Razzaghi, a retired hydrologist and professional engineer originally from Iran, the family has taken an interest in the local river.

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They have been involved in the Coquitlam Roundtable Watershed Roundtable since 2012 and recently were presented with a Coquitlam environmental achievement award for their efforts.

“They’ve been a really strong volunteer base for us,” said Jill Dwyer, the roundtable coordinator, whose group participates in local planning to ensure the ongoing health of the Coquitlam River.

Including Vahed, there are three generations of the Razzaghi-Mivehchi representing the roundtable at local festivals, helping with a strategic plan for the committee and translating into Persian international conservation practices.

“I was eager to get to know the community through the environment,” said Razzaghi, who immigrated to Canada in 2009 to be closer to one of his daughters.

Razzaghi first volunteered to help with the Coquitlam Then and Now history book but became interested in the roundtable when another daughter, Bonnie Mivehchi, got involved as a volunteer coordinator through her SFU digital communications practicum.

Mivehchi had just arrived in Canada from Iran in 2012 with her husband Mitch and son Parsa, a Dr. Charles Best Grade 12 student, and she fell in love with the river.

“I love the sound the river makes, and the birds,” she says, describing how she regularly walks along the river unless it's bear season.

Son Parsa has helped with the roundtable and also clipped the fins of coho fingerlings so they could be identified as hatchery fish while her husband, Mitch, a professional engineer with his own business and an expertise in dams and stormwater management, got involved, too.

Mitch noted that it’s of great importance for engineers to protect the environment, noting, “It’s first in our code of ethics."

Further solidifying their Canuck roots, the family took a 15-day cross-country tour of Canada by rail, taking in nine provinces during the journey.

Now that they are back home, they are eager to get back into their volunteer roles, attending meetings and working on various projects.

“Canada is a country of bottomless beauty,” Bonnie said. “It’s a beautiful scene from west to east.”

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