July 6, 2023 – In collaboration with Greening Sacred Spaces, Watersheds Canada is empowering six Ottawa and surrounding area faith communities with the tools and support they need to lead six freshwater stewardship projects in 2023-2024.
As pillars in their community, faith groups can bring people together to engage in stewardship initiatives and take local action for their freshwater. By equipping faith communities with resources and support to lead local change, individuals foster a deeper connection with their environment as they are directly involved in projects to keep it healthy. Promoting diverse connections between faith communities, their neighbours, the public, and local conservation authorities fosters a collaborative approach to sustainability.
“This new engagement project is a critical and practical bridge between education awareness and freshwater stewardship action for Ottawa faith communities and we are so pleased to see the interest and success in the program during its first year”, says Nicole Dubé, Freshwater Health Coordinator at Watersheds Canada. “Now as we head into our second year of the program which focuses on the delivery of six freshwater stewardship projects, we can see how the program is creating inclusive and knowledge-sharing spaces. This builds capacity for groups to lead locally-appropriate environmental projects that engage their greater community.”
This two-year pilot project is helping six faith groups across the National Capital region, including Ascension Anglican Church, Carleton Memorial United Church, Kanata Muslim Association, Rhoda Masjid, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, and Trinity United Church. Greening projects will include stormwater management, community gardens, youth engagement, pollinator gardens, energy retrofits, and water retrofits.
“Greening Sacred Spaces Ottawa, alongside Watersheds Canada, has been delighted to offer the Ottawa Faith Community Capacity Building Program to six enthusiastic, diverse faith communities in the Ottawa area”, says Charlie Scromeda, Manager at Greening Sacred Spaces Ottawa. “From pollinator gardens to heat pumps, we’ve been inspired by the creativity and perseverance of the communities in implementing their freshwater stewardship projects. We are honoured to support these projects with microgrants, expertise, information resources, and on-the-ground assistance.”
During the first year of this two-year program, a Freshwater Stewardship Engagement Toolkit was curated focusing on a variety of environmental topics. This toolkit, which includes over 620 pre-existing resources from various organizations, features the following ten chapters: youth engagement, stormwater management, shoreline cleanups, natural shorelines, invasive species, Indigenous water education, green audits and retrofits, fish habitat, community science, and community gardens. Hard copies of the toolkit were distributed to participating faith communities and an online version will be published during the program’s second year for free public access.
Thanks to generous funding from the Ottawa Community Foundation and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and partnerships with Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, the program’s first year was a success and remains on track for year two. An interactive freshwater projects map will also be launched in the program’s second year to support and raise awareness for greening initiatives in the local area.
Freshwater Health Coordinator