Canada is blessed with stunning and diverse ecosystems, all of which bring us pride and joy. One of those unique and important ecosystems is the St. Lawrence River and its watershed. Roaring across Quebec from the Great Lakes, its birthplace, and finishing in the gulf bearing its name, the St. Lawrence River, called Magotogoek (the path that walks) by the Algonquins, was the way through which European explorers first settled in Canada.
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Beyond its magnificence, few people know that as many as 45 per cent of Quebecers get their drinking water from the St. Lawrence River. Considering that our bodies are mostly made of water, this literally means that the St. Lawrence runs through us! What's more, the Gulf of St. Lawrence alone is more diverse than the Caribbean sea, with some 27,000 species, including bacteria, plants, fish, mammals, and birds. How many people know that the St. Lawrence is home for at least 19 species of... sharks?!
Considering the St. Lawrence River is a core component of our environmental and economic prosperity, the Quebec team of the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF-QC) is proud to contribute to raising awareness about the importance of protecting the St. Lawrence River. Our work is achieved through the financial support of the RBC Blue Water Project.
How do we protect the St. Lawrence?
There's a saying, "When you know more about something you also care about it." That's our motto when it comes to the St. Lawrence. Through the support of the Blue Water Project, DSF has developed an awareness-raising project titled The St. Lawrence: Our Living River.
During the first two years of this project, we developed a compelling multimedia presentation to emphasize the importance and diversity of the ecosystems of the river, as well as to communicate the historical and cultural heritage associated with it. This hour-long journey along the St. Lawrence is based on scientific and cultural information, and is at the core of our project, which ultimately aims to reconnect Quebecers to the St. Lawrence. We have also developed an educational map of the St. Lawrence, which was distributed to hundreds of schools.
To reach out to as many Quebecers as possible, 40 St. Lawrence Ambassadors from across the province of Quebec were trained to give this presentation in their communities. These highly motivated ambassadors were selected not only for their passion about the St. Lawrence, but also for their scientific and cultural knowledge about its varied ecosystems. Together they have reached several hundred Quebecers in just over a year.
Another part of our project is the Acts of Blue campaign, which helps people protect the St. Lawrence through simple actions. It's all packaged as an easy and fun way to contribute to protection. During the first year of the project, Quebecers were asked to tell us what they are doing to protect the St. Lawrence. In the second year, we suggested three easy ways to reconnect with and protect the St. Lawrence, such as buying sustainable seafood products and adopting household habits that are not harmful to the St. Lawrence.
Finally, the St. Lawrence Action day, held on RBC's Blue Water day, has been another way for us to encourage Quebecers to reconnect with the St. Lawrence. We suggested activities to bring people to the St. Lawrence, including shore cleaning and kayaking on river.
What are the next steps?
We are proud that RBC has renewed its faith in our St. Lawrence Project by funding it for three more years. The team in Quebec is committed to reaching out to many more Quebecers in the coming years, working with schools and municipalities. We intend to train several high school teachers as St. Lawrence Ambassadors, and to collaborate with various municipalities along the St. Lawrence to encourage their citizens to take part to the Acts of Blue campaign and the St. Lawrence Action day.
All in all, DSF is proud to have initiated a compelling educational and scientific campaign. We're grateful to the trust given by RBC to conduct such a vital project for one of Quebec's most important ecosystems — the St. Lawrence River!