River Swimmer Tackles Ottawa River to Highlight Environmental Concerns

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Ottawa, ON – On Monday June27 at 2p.m. David Merpaw, a marathon swimmer from Cornwall, Ontario will embark on a journey from the Ottawa River at Victoria Island ( near Parliament Buildings ) to Kanesatake (Oka, Quebec ).He will be swimming solo, without a support crew, towing provisions behind him in a child size kayak. He plans to swim during the nights and sleep along the shoreline when weather gets too sunny. The distance is about 165 kilometres, but it’s never about how many kilometres you can swim in so much time, it’s really about each and every moment of the Swim. He plans to finish the Swim in 3 days.

“I had a hard fall ( accident ) at home few days ago but if I feel good then onward to Montreal, hopefully finishing at Victoria Pier in port area of Old Montreal” he said. David is swimming to raise awareness about environmental issues in the Ottawa River watershed, pollution, invasive species, endangered native species, harmful effects of improper shoreline development.

Last Summer, David took on a similar challenge, swimming from Kingston to Montreal, to raise awareness about environmental issues in the St. Lawrence River. On his swim he also highlighted the research conducted by the St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Studies, which is also located in David’s hometown of Cornwall.

David says, “Through this marathon swim I am raising awareness about as Canadians what can we do together to protect our Rivers and Environment. As of this year there are more than 178 types of Invasive Species living in our Great Lakes watershed. Will the future of the Rivers be worst tomorrow if we don’t do anything better to help the situation now?

In photographs taken from space, we can see that our planet has more water than land. It is unexpected and somewhat inconceivable that less than 3% of Earth’s water is fresh water. Most of that 3% is inaccessible. Over 68 percent of the fresh water on Earth is found in icecaps and glaciers, and just over 30 percent is found in ground water. Only about 0.3 percent of our fresh water is found in the surface water of lakes, rivers, and swamps. Of all the water on Earth, more than 99% of Earth’s water is unusable by humans and many other living things! It seems extraordinary that the water that supports all terrestrial, as well as aquatic, life on our planet is actually so scarce. With this stunning realization comes a recognition that we have to utilize this resource very wisely. An important first step is to educate ourselves and future generations of Canadians.

Last week in Cornwall, David was inspired and proud to be part of the Shoreline Clean Up Crew on the St.Lawrence River, There was more than 100 volunteers cleaning the area in the River and near Shore, There were Scuba Divers picking up the heavy items on the River bed, items like carpet, tires, shopping carts, bottles, bicycles and other items. As he swims the Ottawa River, David will collect garbage and take note of where any large junk is located for future pick up. He plans to chat up with any fisherman, boaters and or residents along the River and share ideals of how we can keep our Rivers clean and safe.

David has a gained a deep sense of respect for First Nations and their role in Canadian History. He will stop in Kanesatake and visit the scared Pine Area where hundreds of Mohawk Warriors are buried. It was those 400 brave fierce heroic Warriors who helped won the Battle of Beaver Dams in 1813 and saved Canada from being invade from America. Canadians are very proud of the men and women who are serving in our military and our Veterans too, but we seem to forget our Native Veterans and Canada’s earliest Battles on our lands.

“This Ottawa River swim and all of my swims are my response to the world in which we live. Through my River Swims I am able to express my dreams, visions, and stories in relation to the past and what is happening today. Let’s keep our Ottawa River and all rivers, wetlands and lakes swimmable, fishable, drinkable and sustainable for today and for future generations.” Everyone is welcome to come to Victoria Island to wish David an ‘ Bon Voyage ‘ or greet him anywhere you spot him along the River. This Ottawa River swim can be followed and tracked on Twitter @swimtheriver. He will also have an GPS Tracker so everyone can see his progress.

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