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Waking up the Watershed

Annabel Slaight: Lady of the Lake

The fish were crying for help for heavens sakes, the cold-water fish, lake trout could no longer breed in Lake Simcoe anymore because there wasn’t enough oxygen, so everyone was crying for help except the people. – Annabel Slaight


Swim it. Fish it. Drink it. Love it.  This is the mandate of the Ladies of the Lake, a movement started by Annabel Slaight with a mission to protect Lake Simcoe and its Watershed.  Annabel is the co-founder of Owl Magazine, Books and Television, and set out on a journey to save the Lake after she was canoeing with her friend and was appalled by the sludge that prevented them from moving any further.

The 2006 and 2009 The Naked Truth calendars had the Ladies of the Lake bare all and raised over $400,000. This grassroots movement grew from 40 friends to a high-profile lobby group. Politicians started listening. As a result, the federal government pledged $30 million in funding to clean up the lake, and the Ontario government passed the Lake Simcoe Protection Act.

Instead of mandating a simple clean-up regime, Annabel and the Ladies have managed to engage people in a new and inventive way. An example of this was the 2009 W.A.S.T.E. film project, this stands for “We Are Saving The Environment” and it saw 64 youth attend film courses and create short films to prompt action to save Lake Simcoe. This culminated with a film festival and a conference that was well attended and you can view all the films online!

Other projects with the Ladies include The Ontario Water Centre, which seeks to educate the public about water and why it is so integral to our health, and they have been involved with the SPLASH Floating Water Festival. This vision of combining all types of professionals and creative types to appreciate and protect our most precious natural resource is truly inspiring.


• Photography courtesy of Jim Panou/Panimages Inc. and Neil Kinnear & Lesley Chung
• Music by Donna Britton

What You Can Do

Get conserving! Find out where your local conservation authority is and see what you can do to help out.

Contact the Ministry of Environment to find out about their Drinking Water Surveillance Program contributing to their water initiatives and find out what projects are happening in your area and get involved.

Buy tickets to the Splash Festival, an event led by Ladies of the Lake to teach the community about water and protect Lake Simcoe.

Spread the Word

Help the environment by telling people about Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which are the toxic chemical substances that bioaccumulate within food as well as water sources, and are generated through human activity. To hear more about POPs in food webs, our exposure to them, and how to reduce them check out what and Environment Canada has to say about them.

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