The de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation commits $490,000 to 3-year partnership with Ottawa Riverkeeper and Alexandra Cousteau's Blue Legacy

GATINEAU, QC, May 29, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - The de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation is joining forces with Ottawa Riverkeeper and Blue Legacy - filmmaker and explorer Alexandra Cousteau's company - to launch River Mission-Mission Rivière, a project dedicated to restoring and protecting the threatened Ottawa River. The project is made possible by the almost half a million dollar contribution the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation has generously committed to the project over the next three years.

The Ottawa River is 1271 km long, the 8th longest river in North America. It harbours more native mussel species than all of Europe's rivers combined, as well as over 300 species of birds. The watershed covers an area larger than England, but despite this, no single government agency is responsible or accountable for the river's health and future.

River Mission - Mission Riviére grew from of the concerns of the 4th generation of the de Gaspé Beaubien family - the new generation of young Gaspé Beaubien's who will eventually oversee the Foundation. The protection of water, they believe, is critical to the health and future of our peoples and planet. As such, the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation has decided to make water its priority.

Working in collaboration with respected and inspiring Ottawa Riverkeeper, Meredith Brown, and with the intrepid Alexandra Cousteau (grand-daughter of Jacques Cousteau) of Blue Legacy, the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation is launching River Mission - Mission Riviére to increase public awareness on the importance of the Ottawa River, the issues impacting its health, and the need for leadership to protect its waters.

River Mission - Mission Riviére is the brainchild of the Foundation's 4th generation. It is being launched by the Foundation's Executive Director, Dominique Monchamp.

"There are many worthwhile causes" explains Philippe de Gaspé Beaubien IV, "but we chose water because water is humanity's most important natural resource. Earlier generations damaged our planet, but people like my grand-parents are now in a position to help redress some of those errors. That's what we hope to do, with the help of experts in this area."

According to Ottawa Riverkeeper Meredith Brown, the agreement is critical to restoring and protecting the Ottawa River. "Two-thirds of the Ottawa River watershed is in Quebec, and Quebecers along the river care deeply about water quality and the health of their local reaches. With the help of the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation, we'll be able to work effectively in Quebec to help communities, businesses and government understand the problems and take action to solve them."

Specific goals

With $490,000 in financial assistance from the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation, the three partners will work with riverside communities, stakeholders and the various government agencies and leaders. The project's focus is to improve water quality, to counteract the negative impacts of dams, and to ensure that existing environmental laws protecting the river are enforced.

In addition, the partnership will support Ottawa Riverkeeper's outreach into the Province of Quebec, promote the importance of the Ottawa River to both the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, and help raise awareness on the present state of the river within Quebec communities. To this end, the partnership will hire a full time Ottawa Riverkeeper staff member dedicated to mobilizing communities in Quebec.

The culmination of River Misson - Mission Rivière will be the 2015 Summit for the Protection of the Ottawa River. Under the leadership of Ottawa Riverkeeper, the Summit will bring together activists, citizens, industry, government, First Nations - stakeholders in the Ottawa River - to develop a common vision, shared objectives and concrete steps to improve the health of the river.

A "Cousteau" launch!

This project will be officially launch August 4th, 2013, as the de Gaspé Beaubien family, joined by a team of specialists, will head out onto the Ottawa River to conduct water quality testing that will  provide information on the present state of the river. This will be followed by an expedition led by Alexandra Cousteau, grand-daughter of the renowned explorer, to produce three documentaries: one on the quality of the Ottawa River water, another on the impact of the dams on river health, and a third on how the lack of coordinated governance is affecting the river's future.

"The river-watcher movement has always been inspiring for me and something I support and encourage," says Cousteau, "I am thrilled that with the contribution of the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation I will be able to work closely with Ottawa Riverkeeper to help mobilize communities in restoring the Ottawa River. It's time people take back ownership of their waters!"

A press conference will be held in July to provide more detailed information on these expeditions and on the next project initiatives.

About the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation

The de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation is a private family foundation founded in 1990 by Nan-b and Philippe de Gaspé Beaubien, based on the philosophy of entrepreneurial philanthropy. Rather than giving simple grants, the Foundation invests in projects with both growth and profit potential. Backed by strong business experience and a formidable network of local and international contacts, the de Gaspé Beaubien family carefully choses project that engage both individuals and organizations in the support of sustainable social development.

About Blue Legacy

Blue Legacy International is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2008 by Alexandra Cousteau that develops and distributes traditional and new media projects to tell stories and inspire people to take action on critical water issues in meaningful ways. Blue Legacy delivers its mission by working in the following project areas:

  • Expeditions to chronicle water issues
  • Development and distribution of media and educational assets
  • Leadership in policy forums and action campaigns
  • Collaboration to increase the capacity and impact of grassroots watershed efforts

Building on the Cousteau legacy of exploration and "experiential storytelling," Blue Legacy expeditions generate excitement and understanding about critical water issues and deliver "conversation-shaping" short films, blogs, images, and interactive elements that allow traditional and online media outlets to more effectively engage their audiences and drive productive discussion around the interconnectivity of water issues through the lens of watershed-first thinking.

About Ottawa Riverkeeper

Founded in 2001, Ottawa Riverkeeper is a grassroots charity formed to protect, promote and improve the health and future of the Ottawa River and its tributaries. Ottawa Riverkeeper works collaboratively to inspire others to take action, to encourage responsible decision making, to hold polluters accountable and to recommend alternative practices and policies to safeguard our local waterways. Ottawa Riverkeeper is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, an international grassroots organization founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

SOURCE: de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation

For further information:

For more information on the participation of the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation to the River Mission, please contact:

Josée Massicotte
Public Relations
De Gaspé Beaubien Foundation
514 388-0169
massicottejosee@videotron.ca


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