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Hop in a canoe to protect freshwater, build employee engagement

Olympic canoeist Gabriel Beauchesne-Sévigny is joining corporate teams in Laval, Que., for WWF-Canada’s inaugural River Quest Canoe Challenge to support freshwater conservation. It’s not too late for your team to register. Sign-up now.

Portaging with canoe on Lady Evelyn River in the forests of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. © Greg STOTT / WWF-Canada

Portaging with canoe on Lady Evelyn River in the forests of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. © Greg STOTT / WWF-Canada

On June 16, employees from some of Canada’s biggest companies will get out of the office and onto the water for WWF-Canada’s first-ever nature-based scavenger hunt: River Quest Canoe Challenge.

This friendly competition calls on companies, their leaders and employees to raise awareness and funds for WWF-Canada’s freshwater conservation efforts, while deepening their connection to nature as they hunt for clues on water and land.

Passionate about protecting our rivers, world cup champion canoeist Gabriel Beauchesne-Sévigny will be there to give participants a lesson and join the top fundraising team’s crew.

world-champion canoeist Gabriel Beauchesne-Sévigny © Gabriel Beauchesne-Sévigny

World-champion canoeist Gabriel Beauchesne-Sévigny © Gabriel Beauchesne-Sevigny

“I can say with all honesty that I am the person I am today because of Canadian rivers,” Beauchesne-Sévigny says. “As a kid, I couldn’t get enough of paddling with my friends at the Trois-Rivières Canoe Club. And I’ve never been able to stop.”

Appreciation runs deep

Beauchesne-Sévigny has spent countless hours paddling Canada’s rivers and lakes in pursuit of his Olympic goal. His love of water has taken him beyond the rivers and lakes of his childhood to the Beijing Olympic games in 2008, and on to World Cup first-place victories in 2013 and 2015.

“I love the feeling of exhaustion from the physical work of canoeing, but what truly puts a smile on my face is the beauty of my surroundings. Whether I’m gliding effortlessly along the shore, dodging trees branches or floating quietly in the middle of a glassy lake to watch the sunset, there is nothing better to appease my worries than a spin in my canoe.”

This profound relationship with rivers has instilled in him a deep appreciation of their immense value and fragility.

“Two decades of paddling has made me appreciate how fragile our freshwater resources truly are. I am forever grateful to live near the most amazing playgrounds imaginable and I want to help protect them.”

What’s at stake

Canada is home to 20 per cent of the world’s freshwater supply. We depend on thousands of lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands to provide us with water to drink, grow our food, power our homes and businesses, and to connect deeply with nature.

A river flows through forests in the Otish Mountains, northern Quebec, Canada. © Garth Lenz / WWF-Canada

A river flows through forests in the Otish Mountains, northern Quebec, Canada. © Garth Lenz / WWF-Canada

Yet nearly every watershed WWF-Canada has assessed as part of our Watershed Reports faces significant threats, which are already changing the ecological condition of Canada’s rivers and watersheds. Since 1970, freshwater species have declined by 76 per cent – a rate of decline faster than that of marine and terrestrial species.

Take action with fellow corporate leaders

WWF-Canada’s River Quest Canoe Challenge is an opportunity to build employee engagement, learn more about freshwater issues and take action to protect the rivers we depend upon and value.

Here’s what a few participating companies are saying as they get into top paddling form:  

  • Canada Steamship Lines has been active on the St. Lawrence River for over 100 years and is committed to maintaining the health of this incredible national treasure. Taking part in employee engagement and fundraising activities like the River Quest Canoe Challenge is another meaningful way to help ensure our rivers continue to thrive, for the benefit of species and the communities that depend on them.” Kirk Jones, Vice President, Sustainability, Government and Industry Affairs.
  • “At Hewlett Packard Enterprise Canada, we don’t just talk corporate social responsibility, we live it every day. The drive to give back to the communities where we live and work runs deep among our employees. Participating in events such as the CN Tower Climb, the Polar Bear Dip and now the Canoe Challenge is a fun way for employees to engage with colleagues, while helping to make a positive contribution to the environment.” Charlie Atkinson, Managing Director of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Canada.  

It’s not too late to join

The fundraiser is open to corporate teams or teams of friends and co-workers who want to help protect and restore water for nature and people. All you have to do is create a team of 10 people per canoe and raise $2,500 total or $250 each (minimum of $1,000 per canoe) to compete in this exciting challenge.

WWF-Canada President and CEO David Miller, Gabriel Beauchesne-Sévigny and our freshwater conservation experts will be at the event to paddle alongside you and cheer you on.

Email us today to learn more or to sign up today. Space is limited.


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