The Ottawa River is one of Maddie Macdonald’s favourite places, but she has lived and worked along many coastlines, and forged her path to law school along the way. Her ocean journey began in the Atlantic, where she studied Aquatic Resources at St. Francis Xavier University. From there, she extended her reach across two more oceans - the Indian and Pacific - working on projects related to estuary management and coastal LNG development issues. Maddie is now studying environmental law at Queen’s University, and has volunteered with Pro Bono Students Canada working on shoreline development research projects in Kingston.
One lesson Maddie has learned from these experiences is that collaboration is key. She has seen scientists and lawyers come together to work on water issues, but doesn’t think it happens as often as it needs to, and notes that “the reality of water is that it rarely fits neatly into one community, one province, one country, or one discipline.” She believes that engaging each other early in our work will be important, which is one place she also sees the importance of highlighting the work of women. Women are working hard as activists, scientists, fishers, lawyers, conservationists, politicians, engineers, and more, and will contribute to solving these interdisciplinary challenges.
The good news is that she sees many young scientists and lawyers who share common goals towards sustainable water futures. Not only this, but environmental law is growing quickly worldwide, and new disciplines such as water law and climate change law are emerging. It’s no wonder so many young environmental lawyers - Maddie included - are passionate about developing their careers, the discipline, and the use of law as a powerful tool to fight for clean and safe water.