Our St. Lawrence River

A translation by Judith Turcotte

More than 80% of the population of Québec live on the shores of the St. Lawrence and its tributaries. They have settled there to travel, to drink its water, to exploit its riches, to enjoy themselves, to cool off and to use as a sewer and waste site. It is difficult to understand the logic behind the idea of discharging the sewers then purifying the contaminated water and later drink it. Despite this incongruity, we are all in admiration at the beauty of our majestic St. Lawrence.

It is true that our river is beautiful on the surface, however, the navel-gazing humans that we are, may be blind to the consequences of our actions on the quality of its waters and more so with respect to the life that exists beneath its surface. The river that we admire hides a living environment. Our actions have an effect on the living capacity of the animals and plants found there. In recent years, some people recognize the harm but do too little to remedy the situation. The actions depend on our governments and as long as the population remains indifferent to what is happening in the waters of our river, nothing will be done.

The St. Lawrence River was baptized by Jacques Cartier who would have navigated it for the first time, on the 10th of August, the birthdate of Lawrence of Rome, a martyr and a saint. Did Cartier have a premonition? Saint Lawrence is considered as the patron saint of the poor. Our poor St. Lawrence requires our attention.

I place the blame on the backs of the politicians as we all have the habit of doing for everything that goes wrong but they are not the only ones to blame. Our politicians come from all circles of our society and rely on the civil servants as advisors. These same civil servants employ hundreds of scientists who observe the changes that are taking place in the river and the impacts on its wildlife and its vegetation. Hundreds of reports provide statistics, describe the changes and their possible consequences but these reports remain on the shelves. This organization is dysfunctional: the politicians react to the voters, the civil servants make a selection of files in compliance with the objectives of their minister and the scientists note and observe. It is rare that the planets are aligned except when there is public pressure.

My intention is to publish blogs that, I hope, will increase awareness of our St. Lawrence River, its attractions, its aquatic life, its gastronomic potential and the governmental practices that endanger these assets. I hesitated for a long time before embarking on this project in fear of not being taken seriously. I am not a scientist and I do not possess an expertise in environment, in aquatic zoology nor in geography. I am only an interested citizen who has finally decided to give himself the right to write on a subject even if I am not a specialist.

I have finally overcome my imposter syndrome and hope that by reading my blogs the people interested will correct me, add comments and make suggestions.

The first blogs I published on the St. Lawrence are still available on my website.

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