A new name, a new beginning!
It’s not everyday you rename an organization. Our decision is the result of many years of careful thought and reflection. Over time, we noticed that our old name, “Sentinelle de la rivière des Outaouais,” was problematic; first, it was too long. It was difficult to remember and repeat in its entirety, even for the media. Therefore, the nickname “Sentinelle Outaouais” was used more often than not – despite our best efforts, since “Sentinelle Outaouais” was also problematic. Any reference to our river was completely lost! We could have been a security company, a bank – you name it! (We were even sometimes mistaken for a health clinic in Gatineau.)
Lastly, “Sentinelle de la rivière des Outaouais” didn’t share a connection with “Ottawa Riverkeeper,” our English name. We regularly experienced, even with our long-standing partners, embarrassing moments when they finally realized it was the same organization!
For those who already knew us (you are probably one of them), a survey revealed you were actually satisfied with our name. (Thank you, we hope you will continue to support the new version of us!) The issue was rather for those who didn’t know us. For them, our old name ranked dead last when we suggested names to describe an organization with our mandate.
We had specific criteria for a new name. It had to be short, it had to represent the nature of our work, it had to be gender-neutral, and it had to clearly relate to “Ottawa Riverkeeper.” After numerous discussions, surveys, and even focus groups, “Garde-rivière des Outaouais” was chosen. We’ll admit, it took us several days to get used to this new name. But, the more we think about it, the more it feels like exactly what we needed. Sometimes, simplicity wins! With this name, all of our criterias were fulfilled. Although the expression “garde-rivière” is not commonly used here, in France it’s used to describe a profession. A “garde-rivière” is the keeper and protector of waterways, a person who informs and educates the public, who is constantly in touch with authorities and elected officials, and who monitors the river quality and cleanliness. Basically, an excellent description for our organization’s work and for the key position of “Riverkeeper,” held by Meredith Brown, who will now also be called “Garde-rivière”!
We’re not done yet!
We are so proud of the progress we have made these past few years in ensuring our organization is bilingual in all aspects. On social media, for example, the number of francophones who follow us has increased an incredible 420% in the last year! We hope that this is only the beginning, and that our new name will be an additional tool towards reaching even more francophones, no matter where they are in our watershed.
Thank you to MEC for their support in this project.