I was raised on rock and roll. For me, Bowie, Lennon, and Strummer were more like father figures than elusive rock stars, and their lyrics were like welcome parental advice. I still crave songs illustrating hope, creativity, and social advocacy so it should be no surprise to learn that I’ve grown into a massive The Tragically Hip fan.
One year ago, Canada came together for The Hip’s final concert. Standing proud, arms draped across each other's shoulders, we swayed together, drank together, and belted out every lyric of every song like they were patriotic anthems together. It was powerful. It was awesome. It changed my life.
That night I was reminded of my childhood guidance and the emergence of a lifelong passion for art and advocacy. By the time Gord Downie made his last bow, I had made a decision: - I was going to save the planet. The whole planet. OK, maybe I just got a little carried away. I was going to commit myself to causes that positively impact my country, issues like the health and protection of our water sources. This is how I discovered the work of Swim Drink Fish Canada.
Swim Drink Fish Canada is a nonprofit organization that has been actively involved in Canada’s arts community since its very beginnings. As I recently heard the VP, Krystyn Tully say, “Artists have always been by our side because they’re the ones willing to take risks, working towards creating something that we can only imagine today: a swimmable, drinkable, fishable future for all.” I first heard of the charity in an interview with Gord Downie, in it he mentioned his involvement and the deep connection he sees between clean water and a healthy civil society. This resonated something for me and I was reminded of the lyric *Be the change that tomorrow needs. I needed to get involved with this Swim Drink Fish place.
Today I am proud to be the Watermark Project Coordinator at Swim Drink Fish Canada. This role is one that perfectly combines natural skills with personal passion and positive growth for me. Now my career goal is to build a historical, factual archive of Canadian’s connections to their waterbodies, reminding and encouraging everyone on the importance of safeguarding swimmable, drinkable, fishable communities. With every Watermark collected we:
Register that waterbody to a national database of important waters
Document the values of that waterbody to that person and their community
Help researchers identify waters where people swim, drink, and/or fish so that those uses can be protected for the future
Provide evidence that ensures environmental laws can be used to safeguard our waters
This weekend my team and I will be collecting Watermarks at the Wolfe Island Music Festival (Aug 11/12th) and I can’t really put into written words just how excited I am for it. We’ll be passionately discussing the value of our personal waterbody connections and advocating positive change towards a healthier future with music fans and the performing artists -- from an island -- surrounded by the waters of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. How cool is that?! My Rock and Roll Dads would be so proud. :)
Check out www.watermarkproject.ca/archive to read some of the thousands of Watermarks already collecting. One of my personal favourite Gord Downie Watermark contributions can be found here. And check out the Watermark submissions from Lou Canon and The Kents, both performing on the Swim Drink Fish Canada main stage Friday night of the Wolfe Island Music Festival. See you there!!
Dana Jackson is the Watermark Project Coordinator with Swim Drink Fish Canada.