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In 2000, a group of concerned citizens began meeting to discuss the best way to protect the Ottawa River. Through this process, they discovered the International Waterkeeper Alliance.

Under the Waterkeeper Alliance model, each member group is headed by a Waterkeeper. The Waterkeeper speaks for their body of water, advocating for its protection and health. Waterkeepers operate independently, focusing on local water issues and serving their communities.

In 2001, the founding group formed a board of directors and started Ottawa Riverkeeper, the third Waterkeeper program in Canada to be licensed by the international Waterkeeper Alliance. Two years later, Ottawa Riverkeeper became a registered charity and secured funding for a full time Riverkeeper.

Lara van Loon served as the first Riverkeeper from 2001 to 2004. Meredith Brown, our current Riverkeeper, has led the organization since 2004.

 

A Waterkeeper? What does that really mean?

A WATERKEEPER is a full-time, non-governmental ombudsman whose special responsibility is to be the full-time public advocate for a water body. Fundamentally, it is the waterkeeper’s job to advocate compliance with environmental laws, respond to citizen complaints, identify problems that affect his or her body of water and recommend appropriate solutions. Waterkeepers are leaders in ensuring that communities maintain control over their local waterways when threatened by development, industrialization or toxic pollution.

Ottawa RIVERKEEPER is a licensed member of Waterkeeper Alliance, an international grassroots advocacy organization founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Watch this video to learn the history of the Waterkeeper Movement:

Currently there are 10 Waterkeepers in Canada protecting our rivers, lakes, and oceans. We address pollution problems to provide a healthier environment for aquatic life, ensure public access to public waters, and guarantee safe drinking water for all Canadians.

  • We are leaders in ensuring that communities maintain access and control over their local waterways, when threatened by development, industrialization, or toxic pollution.
  • We are Canada’s most skilled citizen enforcers of the federal Fisheries Act – the most powerful environmental law in the country.
  • We are activists, working directly with communities to ensure they have fair and open decision-making processes on environmental issues affecting them.