Watermark with Britt Standen

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I’ve lived on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River since I was 7 years old. At the time, I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to grow up on such a unique property, so close to this amazing body of water that feeds the city of Edmonton.

My cousins and I spent countless hours swimming and canoeing in the river. My parents bought a ski boat and along with their friends, we would waterski, swim and picnic all summer long. My parents, with their gymnastics backgrounds, were quite often asked by the city of Edmonton to come downtown and put on waterski shows during festivals and events. In the winter, my father would clear a patch of the river so we could ice skate and we would also cross country ski along the banks for hours.

Now that my husband and I own the property and my kids are growing up here, we realize how lucky we are to be living on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. It has changed a lot since I was a child; now having walking trails, walking bridges, and boat launch sites for all Edmontonians to enjoy.

Nine years ago, my friend Karen Percy Lowe invited me to the Waterkeeper Alliance Gala in Banff and we both decided we needed to walk the talk. We have this amazing body of water; a glacier-fed river that flows east from the Canadian Rockies and, eventually, into the Hudson Bay. That is what prompted me to get involved and protect our drinking water. So, I became one of the founding members of North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper to help keep our waters swimmable, drinkable, and fishable.

Every day our family wakes up looking at the river and its surroundings and feel very blessed to live on such a beautiful body of water: The North Saskatchewan River.

 

Britt has always been closely connected to the North Saskatchewan River. Since the inception of North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper, Britt has been an advocate for swimmable, drinkable, fishable watershed. She is currently the Vice President and Treasurer of North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper. Today, Britt is the president and owner of Physique Fitness Stores, Alberta’s premier retailer of fitness equipment. She continues to nurture her connection to the river with her husband, Craig, and two children.

At tonight’s Waterkeeper Gala, Britt will be introduced as one of 12 Swim Drink Fish Ambassadors, community leaders who have demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to creating a future where every Canadian can swim, drink, and fish. Click here to learn more!

Check out Britt’s story on the Watermark Archive!

 

Watermark with Kevin Lowe

One of North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper’s directors, Kevin Lowe’s interest in clean water grew out of his original bond with the Shuswap Lake. As he became educated on everyday practices that were threatening our watersheds, Kevin felt a pull to take responsibility for stewardship of this lake and other waters. Along with his wife Karen, Kevin has developed a leadership role as a Canadian Trustee in the Waterkeeper Alliance. They have worked hard in collaboration with other Canadian waterkeepers to make the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper program a leader in the protection and preservation of our watershed.

As the President of Hockey Operations for the Edmonton Oilers and long-time resident of Edmonton, Kevin demonstrates commitment and dedication to making Edmonton a great city. Other endeavours include his support for fundraising efforts by the Stollery Children’s Hospital and leadership role with the Edmonton Oiler Community Foundation.

I grew up about an hour northwest of Montreal in the small city of Lachute, nestled in the foothills of the Laurentians, in Quebec’s cottage country. My family didn’t own a cottage back then; my father and uncles worked together running the family business and I think that sort of forced us to stick close to town during the summer months. But that never stopped us from loading the whole family up in our cars on hot, humid summer days and taking the 20 minute drive north to picnic at a place we used to called ‘Flat Rocks’. It was a spot where a stream (whose name escapes me now) flowed over a series of little waterfalls, forming small pools that were perfect for swimming. I’ll always remember the instant relief I felt jumping into those cool clean waters, and the great times we had together on the banks.

Now my family does have a cottage. It’s on Shuswap Lake in Southern B.C., where the summers are often scorching. On some of the hottest days, my wife and I would take our kids on hikes through Herald Provincial Park to Margaret Falls so we could all cool off in the spray from the waterfall. The comparison feels a bit funny now, but standing in the mists of that thundering waterfall with my kids would always bring me back to those days splashing around at the Flat Rocks with my family. I guess that’s probably why I care so much about safeguarding swimmable, drinkable, fishable water today; so everyone has a place to beat the heat and enjoy some good times with the people they love.

North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper is proud to be a part of the Watermark Project! To learn more about the Project and to check out Karen’s Watermark, visit the Watermark Project Archive.

To submit a Watermark of your own click here.

Sarah Harmer’s Great Lake Watermarks – Lake Erie

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It’s dark. I have driven overnight and arrived where the mouth of the Grand River meets the shallow north shore of Lake Erie. I am here to sing a song at a small sunrise wedding ceremony. I was given directions to this lighthouse, and I wait with my guitar on a gravel spit jutting into the water. I’m the first one to arrive but I’m not the only one awake. In the pre-dawn grey perch boats motor out from the harbour, their lights glowing as they pass. There’s a clatter of chains. I imagine anchors being hoisted, nets being hauled. I hear talk between the fishermen. Is it Portuguese? The sky slowly begins to lighten and a few silhouettes, wedding guests I hope, make their way down the path towards me.

Sarah Harmer is an award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter and activist.

Click here to check out this and Sarah’s other Great Lake Watermarks on the Watermark Project archive.

North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper is proud to be a part of the Watermark Project, preserving our national water heritage through storytelling. To submit a Watermark of your own click here.

Photo credit: Dustin Rabin

Sarah Harmer’s Great Lake Watermarks – Lake Superior

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It’s near the end of April but still Thunder Bay is frozen in and Lake Superior’s ice and snow reflect the sun back up into the blue sky. I am here to sing at an Earth Day celebration. I walk to the end of the blustery pier and stand next to a metal sculpture with a speaker in it. I am alone but for a woman’s stark voice coming out of the speaker, saying words in her native tongue- Ice, Fire, Moose.

Is it Ojibwe? Inside the Harbour Centre I study a perfect replica of a Laker, with miniature cranes, wheelhouse, and cargo containers. The long history of moving grain and other goods out of this water trailhead is evidenced in the black and white photographs on the wall of shipbuilding and ribbon cutting ceremonies.

Sarah Harmer is an award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter and activist.

Click here to check out this and Sarah’s other Great Lake Watermarks on the Watermark Project archive.

North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper is proud to be a part of the Watermark Project, preserving our national water heritage through storytelling. To submit a Watermark of your own click here.

Photo credit: Dustin Rabin

 

Sarah Harmer’s Great Lake Watermarks – Lake Huron

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Lake Huron

Here we were a few years ago starting a tour, my band mates and I, in the wee town of Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, a 5-hour drive northwest of Toronto. Lake Huron washes against both sides of this ancient spine. On the west side white sand and summer beach getaway towns. On the east side the crystal blue waters of Georgian Bay. The grotto is tempting, but rumoured to be ice cold. Up on the cliff we eat smoked whitefish caught just south of here off Cape Croker; the Chippewas of Nawash unceded First Nation. Nourished by the lake’s delicious offerings we trek this rugged Niagara Escarpment and kayak the misty waters at its base.

Sarah Harmer is an award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter and activist.

Click here to check out this and Sarah’s other Great Lake Watermarks on the Watermark Project archive.

North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper is proud to be a part of the Watermark Project, preserving our national water heritage through storytelling. To submit a Watermark of your own click here.

Photo credit: Dustin Rabin

Watermark with Karen Percy Lowe

Born and raised near the Bow River in Banff, Karen has always felt a connection with water and passion for global water issues. An Olympic and professional downhill skier, Karen’s interest and concern grew when she was asked to ski with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at the Annual Waterkeeper Alliance fundraiser in Banff six years ago. Wanting to bring her passion to the watersheds of her home province, Karen forged a lasting relationship with the Alliance.

Two-time Olympic Bronze Medalist, recipient of the Order of Canada, and mother of five; she is now an active Waterkeeper Trustee, and dedicates ongoing time and support to the efforts of the Waterkeeper Alliance as President of North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper.

I ski-raced for a long time but now I am a mother of four and I do a lot of charity work – which includes being the president of North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper.

Water has been a special part of my life for a really long time. I grew up in Banff, Alberta. The water was so cold there it took your breath away. I used to go canoeing a lot but I was a really big windsurfer. A group of us would take our boards and go to Jack Lake and windsurf. Growing up, I spent my summers by the water. My family would pile in the station wagon and go on trips, and my dad always insisted that we had to park the trailer by a lake.

There are two waterbodies that have made a big impact on my life. The first is the North Saskatchewan River. Twenty-five years ago I married Kevin Lowe. We lived in Edmonton and in New York for a few years and then found ourselves back in Edmonton when he was traded. This is where we raised our four children. My family has lived by this river for a long time. It is important to me that the river is protected because it is Edmonton’s source of drinking water. I want people to have drinking water from the North Saskatchewan River for generations to come. I also run a lot. There are a lot of great trails that run along the river. Years ago I was training for a marathon and I would run down one trail beside the river and back up on the other side. It really is beautiful.

The other water body that I am connected to is Shuswap Lake in British Columbia. We have spent our summers there since 1992. All my kids come – but so do other family members and it ends up being 20 people by the lake. My kids love going there. We swim, fish, jump off the dock, waterski, make waterski pyramids, have canoe races, and paddleboard races. When my kids were young I used to put them to bed and wake them up when it was dark so we could jump in the lake at night. It was a tradition. Its beautiful to be able to jump in the lake. I want my kid’s children to be able to experience that.

Every year I want to do one special thing when the kids come to Shuswap Lake. In the past, we have had seven people waterski behind the boat at one time, we made a water ski pyramid. Then the following year, we made a bigger water ski pyramid. We do it every year, so next year’s pyramid will be even bigger.

I got involved with protecting water when Kevin and I became trustees for Waterkeeper Alliance. We helped raise money and brought people we knew to the events. People kept asking me what was Waterkeeper Alliance, so rather than just explain it, I decided to walk the talk and do something. I wanted to do something local, so that people could understand what Waterkeeper was and see that the money was going local. It was a big project, but I just wanted to explain to people what we were doing and to help grow clean water in Canada. I wanted to protect the water we have since it is our drinking water.

North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper is proud to be a part of the Watermark Project! To learn more about the Project and to check out Karen’s Watermark, visit the Watermark Project Archive.

To submit a Watermark of your own click here.

The Watermark Project is Here!

North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper, in partnership with the National Water Centre and Waterkeepers across Canada, is proud to announce the official launch of the Watermark Project!

We often forget how water shapes our country, our culture, our lives. We forget how privileged we are to have access to more freshwater and ocean than arguably any other nation in world. When we forget, we become immune to the loss: the destruction and diminishment of Canada’s swimmable drinkable fishable waters.

As Canadians, we need to sharpen our memory. Our water is more than a necessity for keeping us alive, it is the thread that holds us together as a country. And that thread is best seen in our stories about being on, in or around water.

That is why we created the Watermark Project: to collect and archive Canadian water stories to demonstrate why swimmable drinkable fishable water matters.

When you think about your favourite body of water, what comes to mind? When you recall your most powerful memory of being on the water, what is it?  Everyone has a story – a Watermark – that connects them to a waterbody; provides them with another reason to protect it. That story often becomes the most powerful reason for protecting swimmable, drinkable, fishable water. And so it should.

Watermark’s are personal and powerful. Whether your Watermark is a positive or negative story about water, it is also valuable information about your environment, at a specific place, at a specific moment, with real people. In addition to being a powerful reminder of your connection to water, it also records and archives important information that can be used to protect water from future threats. Your Watermark is a ripple in a project intended to keep Canada a place where everyone and everything can safely swim, drink, and fish.

Recording and sharing your Watermark is an incredible personal experience. You can learn so much about yourself by submitting a Watermark, making that connection to a waterbody, causing that ripple. Help us protect your waterbody.

Try it. Build a force strong enough to cause a shift in our water culture so you can’t ever forget again.

Click Here to Discover the Watermark Project!

 

Reblogged from The National Water Centre

 

 

Where can you swim in Alberta?

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While The Swim Guide (www.theswimguide.org) does not have all the answers for swimming or water recreation in Alberta, it is a great starting point.

The Waterkeeper Swim Guide for Alberta beaches and lakes  provides daily water quality updates for most of the popular public beaches and lakes for Alberta. The North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper (NSRK) provides the content and updates for the Swim Guide in Alberta. The daily water quality updates are based on Alberta Health Services health advisories posted for beaches they monitor for fecal contamination and lakes for the confirmed presence of blue-green algae.

The Waterkeeper Swim Guide also provides citizen reports of swimmer’s itch and and other beach and swimming area concerns provided to the NSRK. There is a report pollution option for every beach of the Swim Guide and the NSRKreceives the pollution reports and provides the follow up.

The Waterkeeper Swim Guide also provides information such as a beach/lake location map, directions, beach/swimming area descriptions, nearby amenities, historical information for the area/beach, historical water quality information, and other helpful hints or references.

Check it out before you head to an Alberta beach or lake for swimming, water-based recreation, or hanging on the beach. The Waterkeeper Swim Guide also covers a number of other provinces, US states, and international jurisdictions.

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