In the News
The Ottawa River has many stories to tell.
They are the stories of the Algonquin heritage, of colonialism, of nation-building and the Industrial Revolution. They are the stories of everyone who shares the river: whether fishers, kayakers or canoeists.
But Alexandra Cousteau, grand-daughter of the world-famous oceanographer and conservationist Jacques-Yves Cousteau, will help the Ottawa River tell its blue, untold story.
Through her not-for-profit organization Blue Legacy International, Cousteau continues to do what her grandfather and father devoted their lives to: conservation of the Earth’s precious resource – water. She traveled to Ottawa as part of River Mission – a joint initiative between the young generation of the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation, Blue Legacy and the Ottawa Riverkeeper to raise awareness of the poor health of the Ottawa River.
Blue Legacy is thrilled to return to Canada on September 12, 2013 to explore and film the Ottawa River, the natural and cultural heart of Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, as part of River Mission, a joint initiative of Blue Legacy International, Alexandra Cousteau’s water advocacy non-profit, the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation and the Ottawa Riverkeeper.
The de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation has funded River Mission, a multi-step initiative, to mobilize politicians, influential leaders, local communities and the entire population of Quebec to protect the Ottawa River, one of the most important rivers in Canada. As part of the initiative, Alexandra Cousteau will lead her expedition crew to the Ottawa River to tell the story of one of Canada's greatest river and how government and citizens are innovating ways to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for the river. “We can’t forget what the river was like in its full glory,” said Ottawa Riverkeeper Meredith Brown. “One project at a time, one action at a time, we can work toward our larger goals.”
Alexandra Cousteau and her crew will spend 10 days shooting three short films about the river's water quality, biodiversity and governance, respectively -- and the people that champion those causes.
"What drew us to this region is the solution-oriented advocacy among its citizens to ensure a healthy future for this watershed," says Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of famed undersea explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau. "It's wonderful to see a community advocate for its freshwater resources and we're delighted to be able to share that story with a wider audience."
From government leadership to improve aging infrastructure to organized citizen monitoring programs, communities in Quebec and Ontario are demonstrating an increasing awareness and urgency for tackling the river’s water challenges. The ways in which Canadians are taking action to restore this critical water source carries lessons and inspiration far beyond the 200 municipalities and two million people that the Ottawa river serves. By looking just across the border where an estimated 850 billion gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater is discharged each year in the U.S., the need to capture and share successful approaches to solving these water quality challenges is evident.
Similarly, the expedition team will explore ways in which hydroelectric dams along the river can be built without compromising a river’s aquatic biodiversity. With an estimated 2,350 hydro dams in North America, according to the National Hydropower Association, and 596 in Canada, according to Environment Canada, the pressing question of balancing sustainable development to protect aquatic biodiversity while meeting the energy needs of a growing population and supporting commercial business along the river presents a highly complex and dynamic challenge. Blue Legacy’s crew will look for leading examples of successful collaboration across diverse stakeholders and innovative solutions for establishing and ensuring this delicate balance.
How the river’s citizens are reclaiming the river's sustainable future is a topic close to Blue Legacy's heart. "Water is a critical life support system and for the first time in history, people are reclaiming their water," says Alexandra Cousteau. "We are thrilled to be able to tell that story in the Ottawa River region." Whether it’s through the work of passionate scientists, dedicated government officials or individual volunteers, the community along the Ottawa river has mobilized to restore and preserve this vital source of life, health and business.
Alexandra Cousteau and Blue Legacy will start filming in the Ottawa region on September 12th, 2013. People can follow the team in the field online at www.AlexandraCousteau.org and stay looped into the adventure as Alexandra Cousteau and her crewmembers post updates:
Facebook: Alexandra Cousteau
Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter is coming to the capital, and true to family form she’s making a documentary about the water here.
Alexandra Cousteau will make three short documentaries about the Ottawa River, in co-operation with the Ottawa Riverkeeper. ousteau and Riverkeeper Meredith Brown will be sampling the river near the Hull Marina beginning Saturday. They’ll be testing for oxygen, phosphorus and nitrogen in the water. The river needs oxygen for fish and other water creatures; the other two chemicals are signs of fertilizer or sewage getting into the water. They will hold a wrap-up session to announce the results on Sept. 23.
The Ottawa River will be starring in a series of short films from a team led by legendary undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter.
It’s all part of River Mission, a joint initiative between Ottawa Riverkeeper, Alexandra Cousteau’s Blue Legacy, and the de Gaspe Beaubien Foundation.
Through its partnership with Ottawa Riverkeeper and Blue Legacy, the fourth generation of the de Gaspé Beaubien Family Rallies Quebec Stakeholders to Help Protect the Ottawa River
Gatineau, July 12th 2013 – Today, the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation unveils its action plan, objectives and next steps concerning the important RIVER MISSION project, announced in May and aimed at better protecting the Ottawa River.
On May 29th, the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation announced its participation in the RIVER MISSION project through a new partnership with Ottawa Riverkeeper (Sentinelle Outaouais) and Blue Legacy International. This project aims to mobilize politicians, influential leaders, local communities and the entire population of Quebec to protect the Ottawa River, one of the most important rivers in Canada. Today, the Foundation unveils its action plan, objectives and the project’s next steps.
Clearly Defined Goals
A confirmed financial commitment of $490,000 by the Foundation will be used to implement a series of activities that aim to raise awareness among the population of Quebec about the health and preservation of this major river. In addition, the goal of the project is to educate citizens that water, one of our most important natural resources, must be protected here in Quebec, as well as in Canada. Ottawa Riverkeeper (Sentinelle Outaouais), already well established on the Ontario side of the river, has been working hard for several years to raise awareness among Anglophone communities about this issue. However, two-thirds of the watershed is in Quebec, and a concerted effort is needed to inform Quebeckers about the importance of the river and the need to provide governance to ensure its preservation.
“We often think that the problems related to water, including its scarcity, are associated with underdeveloped countries, but the reality is very different... Imagine if countries today that have abundant water were to suddenly lack water; a major social crisis could ensue. We must roll up our sleeves and get started here now, because nothing is assured for future generations,” explains Philippe de Gaspé Beaubien IV, one of the initiators of the project, and project spokesperson for the fourth generation of the family.
According to Riverkeeper, Meredith Brown, the help of the de Gaspé Beaubien family is critical to Ottawa Riverkeeper’s efforts to protect the Ottawa River watershed. “We’ve been able to work very effectively in Ontario, but to work respectfully and effectively in Quebec, we need someone on our team who is completely at home with the laws, culture and language, which are different than in Ontario. If we are truly going to protect this magnificent river, we need to bring together communities and stakeholders on both sides of the river to agree on a common vision.”
Step 1: New Position - Director of Operations in Quebec
In order to achieve our RIVER MISSION goals, the first step is to establish a permanent Director of Operations in Quebec for Ottawa Riverkeeper. The mandate of this successful candidate will be to represent Ottawa Riverkeeper in Quebec, and to bring together citizens, policy makers, governments and municipalities to create a shared vision of the river, a vision founded on a healthy, sustainable watershed for the benefit of all.
Step 2: Ottawa River Expedition by the 4th Generation of the de Gaspé Beaubien Family
The main goal of this expedition, to be held from August 4th-8th, will be to allow four young philanthropists from the fourth generation of the family to take ownership of their project and to understand how they can make a difference and become engaged spokespeople for RIVER MISSION. They will also test the water at different locations on the river to assess its quality.
Step 3: Ottawa River Expedition led by Blue Legacy’s Alexandra Cousteau
During their next expedition on the Ottawa River, from September 11th-21st, 2013, the Blue Legacy team, led by Alexandra Cousteau, will capture three short films exploring:
The quality of the water in the river
The impact of dams on biodiversity
The impact of the lack of collaborative governance on the river
The films will illustrate these critical issues and tell the compelling story of the state of the river to help people realize its importance to Canada.
Media interested in attending either of these expeditions, either remotely, or on-site, may communicate directly with the Valérie Gonzalo, Publicist for the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation.
Step 4: The Decision-Makers Tour
A year-long tour will be organized in 2014 to meet people whose actions and decisions could directly influence the state of the river, including mayors, ministers of the Environment, First Nations representatives, industries like Hydro-Quebec, Ontario Power Generation, the Chalk River nuclear plant, and nine pulp and paper mills that operate along the river. The de Gaspé Beaubien youth, Alexandra Cousteau, and Riverkeeper representatives will be on this tour; their mission will be to listen to the issues and concerns of all stakeholders, and then hold an open dialogue to assess how each party can contribute to improving the state of the river.
Step 5: Ottawa River Summit 2015
This project will wrap up at the second Ottawa River Summit, which will bring together all decision makers and citizens whose activities may have a significant impact on the river, to determine together an appropriate means of collaborative governance, supported by a strategic plan adopted by the majority of stakeholders.
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Spending her summers in the south of France as a child, Alexandra Cousteau would walk from one tank to the next at The Oceanographic Museum with her grandfather, the famous explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. She asked myriad questions of Mr. Cousteau, who worked as director there. But while she learned to scuba dive at a young age, she shared her apprehension of leaping into unfamiliar water, as she gave one of the keynote addresses to Toledo-area leaders and advocates at Friday's GreenTown Conference...