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Today, as Green Heroes.tv celebrates our 6th anniversary, we honour musician and water protector, Gord Downie on tour with his band The Tragically Hip. Media articles and reports cover his musical legacy, but haven’t mentioned his activism and love of the lake. This led to stopping an environmental heavy hitter from burning tires as an alternate fuel source on the shores of Lake Ontario, just down the road from the band’s recording studio in Bath Ontario. Gord joined forces with the local community and the environmental organization, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, and became co-applicant on a case that led to changing how permits for potentially unsafe environmental practices are approved in Ontario.

“I feel more a citizen of Lake Ontario than I do of anywhere else.” Gord told us.

His love of the lake came early, growing up in Kingston Ontario, a waterfront city located at the eastern end of the lake near the start of the St. Lawrence River. But “with time and distance” Gord found he had “lost his connection with the lake” until he heard a speech by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. whose work on the Hudson River spawned the global Waterkeeper Alliance.

Gord said it was an empowering moment when he heard that “the lake belongs to us. It’s in the public trust. In an era when everything is owned and staked out, that really moved me.”

Watch our profile of Gord as he tells what it took to achieve victory against a large multinational and, for a more in-depth look, watch our TV episode, In My Backyard, produced in association with TVO.

The CBC carries the Hip’s hometown show in Kingston, Ont., live on its television, radio and online platforms on Aug. 20 starting at 8:30 p.m. ET. While it will be a moving event, we’ll remember Gord best for literally putting his name on the line to achieve environmental justice for the lake he loves so much.

This month we filmed on site at the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, a music festival and vendors market held at Christie Lake Conservation Area to celebrate local food. The film will be part of an episode on local food for the next season of our television show.

Read more…

Gord Downie has been keeping busy with a dual career as musician and water advocate. One of his latest ventures was becoming the narrator for Waterlife, a documentary film, produced by Primitive Entertainment, that has been described as ‘visual poetry’. The film follows the flow of water from the Great Lakes, all the way from the Nipigon River to the Atlantic Ocean. It is the last large supply of fresh water on Earth, and reaches 35million people. The film reveals the challenges that the Great Lakes are facing due to pollution, chemicals, invasive species and apathy. It is people like Gord that are trying to do something to prevent an ecological collapse. Explore the interactive project on the NFB website.

The film is airing on the History Channel on:

Monday, August 15th at 9:00pm (EST)

Tuesday, August 16th at 1:00am (EST)

Thursday, August 18th at 10:00pm (EST)

Friday, August 19th at 1:00am and 1:00pm (EST)

Make sure you check it out!


If you feel like we have a right to clean water, join  Ecojustice and sign the petition addressed to the Federal Environment minister, Peter Kent, to ensure that all Canadians can access clean, safe, drinking water.