Exploration

Jill Heinerth: Why I intend to dive in every province and territory in Canada this year

Canada is rich in fresh water — but with great wealth comes great responsibility 
  • Jul 03, 2018
  • 302 words
  • 2 minutes
A scuba diver at a shipwreck in Fathom Five National Marine Sanctuary Expand Image

From the Arctic to the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, from the Great Lakes to the St. Lawrence Seaway, Canada has a staggering 200,000 kilometres of coastline, more than any other country on the planet. Eight per cent of our territory is covered by lakes — the most lake area in the world — and we possess an incredible nine per cent of the globe’s renewable fresh water. Our abundant water reserves support tourism, recreation and industry, as well as provide flood control, drought mitigation and support for biodiversity. There’s no doubt that we ask a lot of our water geography. 

However, with great wealth comes great responsibility. According to a Circle of Blue-commissioned study, two thirds of Canadians are concerned about water pollution and access to safe drinking water. Each year 90,000 Canadians fall ill from waterborne pathogens, leading to 90 deaths, according to Environment Canada. As many as 75 per cent of water systems in Indigenous communities pose significant threats to the quality and quantity of their drinking water. And, in the last several years, 25 per cent of Canadian municipalities have experienced periodic water shortages. 

As Canadians, we have an opportunity to lead the world by our example. We can live in harmony with our water planet — and I plan to inspire our country to do just that, with my latest project, Underwater Canada

In 2018-2019, I intend to travel to all of Canada’s provinces and territories on a quest to experience the beauty of our water resources and examine conservation issues and solutions. Covering at least one site in every province and territory, I’ll highlight favoured local dive sites, shipwrecks, mines, ice environments, biodiversity and unique wildlife. I’ll work with local diving outfitters to delve into issues affecting our waterways, such as pollution, resource depletion, and climate change. Follow my journey at canadiangeographic.ca and at underwatercanada.ca.

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