It comes with great excitement that we, the Waterkeepers in Canada, welcome a new member into the very prestigious role of full-time Fraser Riverkeeper: Sadie Caron.
17-years ago, the late, great Doug Chapman was named the inaugural Fraser Riverkeeper. Chapman, seasoned prosecutor of polluters, was one of Canada’s most significant environmental fixtures in the last 40 years. Chapman was a mariner and commercial fisherman who devoted much of his 30-year legal career to prosecuting environmental crime. He tried the first ground-breaking case that held corporate executives responsible for degrading the environment.
This was the beginning of a long legacy of water advocacy led by Fraser Riverkeeper (“FRK”)—both the organization and its supporters. The high standard Doug set for FRK followed him as new advocates stepped in to protect Vancouver’s waterways, solidifying FRK as a fierce independent voice in building a community of water users.
Succeeding him was Tyee Bridge and then Joe Daniels. Lauren Hornor, who served as Fraser Riverkeeper’s executive director and co-launched Fraser Riverkeeper in 2007, took over the role in 2014 for a few years before transitioning to serve as president of Fraser Riverkeeper, and is now the Vancouver Waterkeeper with Swim Drink Fish.
Sadie joins current Vancouver Waterkeeper, Lauren Brown Hornor, and the late Doug Chapman as the organization's newest Fraser Riverkeeper.
Sadie emerged into the role after joining the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper in 2018 and moved into the role of Program Manager with Fraser Riverkeeper in 2019.
Other Riverkeeper organizations in Canada include: Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper, Ottawa Riverkeeper, Happy Valley Goose Bay Riverkeeper, Moose Riverkeeper, Petitcodiac Riverkeeper, Fundy Baykeeper.
Sadie joins the ranks of Riverkeepers across the globe supported by Waterkeeper Alliance, a world-wide movement of organizations working to safeguard clean water. From the Bahamas to Bangladesh, from Mongolia to Mexico, there are over 350 member organizations of the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international network of grassroots groups protecting everyone’s right to clean water. All are working to ensure swimmable, drinkable, and fishable local waterways.
The title of Waterkeeper is adopted from Indigenous communities, in which they possess significant cultural importance. Women in these communities since time immemorial have been known as the Keepers of the Water, protecting water knowledge, management, and protection. Due to the holistic importance of water to these communities, these women protect not only the supply, but the spiritual connections to water. We acknowledge and respect the traditional honorific “Water Keeper” or “Keeper of the Water” within Indigenous communities in Canada and encourage people who want to know more about those traditions to speak directly to a local First Nation.
Today, Waterkeepers and Riverkeepers are a collection of organizations and programs that embody the spirit of those who began the movement: they spend time on the water, they know their watershed intimately, they help to enforce the laws and policies.
Sadie truly embodies the spirit of a Riverkeeper. She responds to the unique needs of her community, she prioritizes the problems that affect people who live here, and she advocates for solutions. As the Fraser Riverkeeper, she embodies the specific culture of the community where she operates.
Sadie is persistent and dedicated to protecting the water she loves. We are honored to recognize her commitment and talent by naming her the Fraser Riverkeepeer!
A personal note from Sadie Caron
When I first joined the Waterkeeper movement in Edmonton at North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper, I didn’t yet understand the role of a Riverkeeper or Waterkeeper. As the sole employee of the Edmonton office of Swim Drink Fish, on social media posts I would sometimes title myself ‘Riverkeeper Sadie’. I thought the title made sense as I spent time teaching in classrooms and leading activities by the river including water monitoring and shoreline cleanups. But at the time, I didn’t comprehend the significance of the Riverkeeper title.
Each member organization of the Waterkeeper Alliance represents their watershed and reflects the specific problems in their community while advocating for unique solutions.
The Riverkeeper movement was started by a band of blue-collar fishermen on New York’s Hudson River in 1966 because industrial polluters were destroying their way of life. Their tough, grassroots brand of environmental activism sparked the Hudson’s miraculous recovery and inspired others to launch Waterkeeper groups around the world. The early Riverkeepers, Baykeepers, Soundkeepers, and Coastkeepers were individuals from U.S. communities who became concerned about the declining health of the river, bay, or lake that they loved. Drawn into activism by their concerns for the water, these “Waterkeepers” became advocates for swimmable, drinkable, fishable water.
After two years of working as Fraser Riverkeeper’s Program Manager, the Board of Directors have appointed me as the newest official Riverkeeper.
I am extremely fortunate to work alongside Fraser Riverkeeper’s co-founder and President Lauren Brown Hornor, and Mark Mattson, the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, and Carol McDonald, one of the original founding members of Fraser Riverkeeper and life partner of Doug Chapman.
This team’s force is undeniably inspiring as we work together to advocate for separation of sewers, upgrades to water treatment, real-time sewage alerts, and initiatives to combat illegal dumping in our waters.
Although I called myself Riverkeeper Sadie a bit prematurely, I now feel absolutely honoured to have officially earned that title. With the legacy of Doug’s formidable work both in the courtroom and on the water, I have some big shoes to fill. I hope to continue his legacy as our newest Riverkeeper, dedicated to protecting waters across BC.
While embracing my new title, I want to acknowledge the many Indigenous water guardians, water walkers, and water protectors across Turtle Island. These people have been the keepers of Vancouver’s waterways since time immemorial. The title of Riverkeeper has been adopted by the Waterkeeper Alliance and we strive to continue the work in the spirit of those who came before us and those who will come after us.
Water affects us all—it fills our bodies, sustains all forms of life, and shapes the environment around us. A future with access to safe, clean, healthy water is imperative, but it can’t be accomplished alone. The only way that I can find success as a Riverkeeper is alongside others equipped with the tools, skills, and knowledge to combat the many threats posed to our most precious natural resource. Waters are innately interconnected and so is the act of Waterkeeping. We at Fraser Riverkeeper are an interconnected community of people with diverse backgrounds and visions, and together with actions large and small, from swimming to sampling, from letter-writing to protesting, from learning to educating we can connect, respect, and protect our watershed for future generations as well as our own.
Sadie Caron, Fraser Riverkeeper
aka Riverkeeper Sadie