Lake Ontario, from Appleby College campus, Oakville, Ontario. Photo by Cecilia Pang \ Public domain via Wikimedia

Know Your Watershed

My first contact with your magazine was last week in the Ajax Library, where I had to kill an hour before a town hall meeting [about] stinky algae along the Lake Ontario waterfront. Voters can stand the lake going to hell, apparently, but not the stink as it does so. 

I am on a mission with the Council of Canadians and their booklet Our Great Lakes Commons: A Peoples’ Plan To Protect The Great Lakes Forever. The watershed is in trouble. How do we actually get people to educate themselves further and take responsibility? There is a lot more to it than algae. And your article about the Asian carp threat [“Carpocalypse Now”, A\J 40:5] was a wonderful lead-in. 

How to get the folk with the stinky algae close to home to understand and participate in the watershed that sustains them? Canoe clubs and sailing clubs? Take someone out on the water who has never been there before. Put on a wetsuit and go snorkeling. Talk to the fish and the zebra mussels where they live. Examine the sludgy blobs on the bottom that inevitably make their poisonous way to the sea. Read Alanna Mitchell’s Seasick

I was hoping you could think of ways to get us all back in touch with our water – our duty to know and protect water. Sponsor some sailing ships like they did to clean up the Hudson River. Come sail with me for an hour or two and I will sing you songs. The waters need their heroes. 
 David Foster, Port Perry, ON

Don't Talk Trash

Your “hero” Wayne Salewski [“Angling for Success,” Earth Day Canada’s Hometown Heroes, A\J 40:5] may have performed praiseworthy tasks in helping with environmental remediation, but I think you need to be more careful in polishing his image as a role model. In the opening paragraph, you quote him referring to fish other than trout as “trash fish.” 

There was a time when life forms were qualified according to their apparent commercial or aesthetic utility to the human race, but I thought we had grown well beyond that narrow and fallacious view to a more holistic one – one that does not include “trash” life forms, but rather one that celebrates all life forms and recognizes their unique roles in a complex environment. And if it truly is to be “Canada’s Environmental Voice,” I expect Alternatives Journal to fulfill its role by explaining and promoting that perspective. 
– Michael Monahan, Mulmur, Ontario

The author responds

I apologize for the confusion and apparent disrespect caused by the “trash fish” quote. It was used to describe the poor state of health of the river, and the language describes feelings Wayne held many years ago. The responsibility for quoting a clearly outdated perception of life falls upon my shoulders. 
– Kyrke Gaudreau

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