Lake Erie awareness campaign to float through social media

Lake Erie. August 26, 2019 (Photo by Allanah Wills)

A group of organizations striving to protect the Great Lakes is asking people to pick up their phones as part of an awareness campaign set to take place on Wednesday.

The third annual social media campaign, We Are Lake Erie Day, sets out to share positive stories that will establish a desire to protect Lake Erie which may, in turn, shed light on recent issues affecting the lake.

Three organizations — Environmental Defence Canada, Canadian Freshwater Alliance, and Freshwater Future Canada — have partnered together to promote the initiative. People are being asked to share pictures and stories, using the hashtag #WeAreLakeErie on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

“In the past, it has been a really great initiative to hear people’s stories and that’s really the goal, to see why people connect with the lake [and] why it’s so important to them,” said Kelsey Scarfone, manager for Environmental Defence‚Äôs Water Program. “We’re really looking forward to hearing those stories.”

Freshwater Future Canada Associate Director Kristy Meyer is also hopeful that seeing the hashtag trending on social media throughout the day Wednesday will get people more motivated to protect Lake Erie and promote change through the campaign.

“People are becoming more and more disconnected because of modern technology and yes, modern technology is really great because it has allowed us to be able to [connect] with people across the world and do things that we weren’t able to do many years ago… but we’re also not getting out as much,” said Meyer. “It really does bring back that connection to nature.”

Recently, algae blooms have become a major concern for Lake Erie. That’s prompting researchers to dip into the lake to collect samples of the western Lake Erie basin where an algal bloom has developed.

“As we’re seeing more threats to our natural environment, we’re really seeing people step up and raise concerns and that’s especially true for places that are in our own backyard,” said Scarfone. “I know for Ontarians and Canadians the [Great Lakes are] valued quite a bit.”

As part of the social media campaign, Scarfone said certain people who use the hashtag #WeAreLakeErie will be chosen to receive an “I love my lake” t-shirt.