It’s the holidays, and I can’t get this song out of my head, and those beautiful words sung by our beloved Joni Mitchell,
I wish I had a river.
Admittedly, the song is a good dose of melancholy, and some longing for home, a longing for Canada, where the landscape is rich with rivers so long you could teach your feet to fly.
Right now while I watch a heavy snow accumulate on even the tiniest branch, I’m humming this tune, and I’m thinking about our rivers.
The Athabasca, winding through the Rockies for hundreds of miles, is home to black bears, grizzlies, and migratory birds. Because of tar sands development, this once-pristine river is now contaminating fish and waterfowl, and a likely cause of certain cancers in First Nations communities who rely on the river as a significant part of their living.
I’m thinking of the mighty St. Lawrence, that’s so huge it’s hard to fathom its expanse. The river system itself drains an astonishing ¼ of the world’s fresh water, and is home to fish stocks critical to our survival, and where endangered belugas hang on by a thread.
And I’m thinking about a small river, just down the road from where I live. While it doesn’t make too many headlines, The Raisin River - known for its sparkling rapids - flows through Martintown, Ontario, a tiny village whose heart is this pretty little river. The proposed Energy East Pipeline route will skirt this area, and if there were a leak or a spill, it would be catastrophic for this rural community - my community.
We are a nation of water. We must take care of these irreplaceable rivers of refuge that are teeming with life.
We have work to do to fight for our rivers that are such an indelible part of our natural heritage. Every pipeline that is approved, every ounce of effluent, every toxic dump takes these waters - and the people and wildlife who rely on them - closer to the breaking point.
If we work together and take action, we can save these beautiful sources of life.
So, if you need a little holiday song, this is one of my favourites. And while you listen, I hope you, too, will think of our rivers.
Have a merry and peaceful holiday. With affection and gratitude,
Director of Development
You can help Sierra Club Canada Foundation do more work to protect our rivers, lakes and coastal waters. Please make a gift today in support of these efforts.
P.S. We feel fortunate to have received so many notes of encouragement this holiday. We read every single note, and the words from supporters gives us greater strength and determination to continue our important work. Thank you for being there with us to make the world a better place. We wish you a very Happy New Year. Please stay in touch with us anytime!