To make a difference in this world, one doesn’t always have to wade too far from home.
For six-year-old Liam last spring, it was an ordinary sunny day fishing at a nearby river with his family when a baby duck came running towards them. Without hesitation, he was eager to help the distressed animal.
“It seemed that somebody had ran over the mother and killed all the other ducklings but this little duck here came to Liam looking for support and comfort,” says George Chinn, Liam’s great-grandfather.
“Liam caught her, took her home where they put her in a cardboard box to give her some food and water.”
Very quickly, the female baby duck took a liking to Liam and it was clear to everyone that they were developing a special bond.
The next day, Chinn says they contacted the Prince Rupert Wildlife Rehab Shelter to arrange a dropoff where animal caretakers Nancy and Gunther Golinia welcomed the duck. There, for the next few months, the duck would grow to make sure she was ready for a release into the wild.
But during that waiting time at the shelter, Liam was eager to visit the duck so they would travel from Terrace to Prince Rupert to spend time with her.
There, he would watch her swim around in a tub and they would then play together as she waddled around.
“We’d take the cage, open the lid, and the duck would slide out into the water. Every time she had a bath, she was just so excited,” Chinn says, adding how gentle Liam would be with the animal.
Chinn wasn’t a surprise to see his great-grandson be so involved with the duck as it was always just part of his personality.
“He’s a very good kid, very kind. He’s not a whiny guy,” Chinn says. “He’s the happy go lucky type who always care about the world around him.”
Eventually, the end of summer came and the shelter decided it was time for the duck to be released back into the wild. They asked Liam and his family if they would like to be there for the goodbye.
Finding a calm area at Lakelse Lake, Liam and his family with the duck in its cage stepped onto a boat. They went as far as they could into the water until they spotted a group of ducks who they thought would befriend her. Upon hearing the quacks, Chinn says the duck was visibly eager to get out into the fresh air.
When they finally opened the door, she popped into the lake and dove straight down to nibble at the weeds but didn’t dare to swim away from the boat.
“She didn’t want us to go. Every time we moved the boat, she would turn around and start following,” says Chinn. “So I told them to get the boat started and when she goes out for a little swim away from us, to just gear up and go.”
When that boat sped away, Chinn says everyone on board was overwhelmed with emotion to watch that duck left behind who just stared at them as they roared into the distance.
“She was left just sitting there in the water, looking at us leave. I think she was in total shock that we left her,” he says, noting that Liam was keeping calm throughout the entire goodbye.
“Liam didn’t whine, cry or nothing when we left. He just took it all in because knew that the little duck would have to be released back into the wild.”
Although it’s been months since the duck has been released, Chinn says the experience has been a moving one for himself and his family. Now that spring is nearing, he often finds himself thinking about whatever happened to her.
“I hope that she made it, that she went on and joined the other ducks,” he says.
“I never knew a little duck like this could touch our hearts so much and it just brings tears to my eyes sometimes.”