My Watermark is the Toronto Harbour, ON.
I grew up hearing how Lake Ontario was unclean. It was my understanding that you would never consider swimming, or really going near the lake water. I never really experienced the lake close up.
In the summer of 2016 I became involved with Lake Ontario Waterkeeper’s water monitoring initiative. My feelings towards Lake Ontario were still ambivalent but I was able to experience Toronto Harbour and I began to learn about the lake and gain a better understanding of it. I remember the days that I could see the changes in water quality with my own eyes. There were days it looked beautiful and clear, and there were days that I could see how cloudy it was from pollution.
The following summer I remember, very clearly, going out on the water with a group of very enthusiastic citizen scientists. These were a group of people who were very much involved with the lake and excited to learn more about its changing water quality and be involved in its water monitoring. As we navigated the harbour from the boat, I got to experience the water with this group of people and was able to see their perspective. The water here was a part of their lives and the pollutants were a problem because of how it would directly impact them and their activities. But there was also concern: they wanted to care for it, to give back.
From Toronto Harbour, I learned how much we can be affected by our connections to waterbodies. I was able to see Toronto Harbour through their eyes that despite the need for monitoring as a result of pollution, they were still connected to the water and felt the need to care for it. As we sailed through the lake’s reflective, shimmering waters, it felt healing to be there - at peace, in nature, with purpose - with people who recognized the role that nature played in our lives, and the role we have to play to protect it.