Protecting Canada's water. Empowering Canada's North.

Mackenzie River Basin Initiative

The Mackenzie River Basin is a vast waterway flowing north through much of western Canada, eventually spilling its waters into the Arctic Ocean. Draining 20 per cent of Canada’s landmass, the Mackenzie River Basin is among the most ecologically significant watersheds in the world. The Basin is life sustaining and of tremendous spiritual and cultural significance for those who live within it, but it faces mounting challenges posed by climate change and natural resource development. 


Our Approach

The Gordon Foundation has made a longstanding commitment to protect Canada’s water and empower Canada’s North. The Mackenzie River Basin Initiative supports innovative research and communications to strengthen citizen engagement in freshwater management, and to drive the development of sound freshwater policy. 



Mackenzie DataStream

Mackenzie DataStream is an online platform for sharing information about freshwater. DataStream is tailored for public audiences and decision-makers, and currently allows users to access, visualize, and download full water quality datasets collected by 22 communities in the Northwest Territories as part of the NWT-wide Community-Based Monitoring program. Moving forward in Phase II, Mackenzie DataStream will incorporate datasets collected by other groups within the Basin.

Mackenzie DataStream has been developed in close collaboration with the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Foundation’s key northern and technical partner. The Mackenzie DataStream pilot was launched in Dettah, NWT in November 2015.

Visit Mackenzie DataStream at

Cold Amazon

Narrated by celebrated northern journalist Paul Andrew, Cold Amazon tells the story of Canada’s massive Mackenzie River Basin. This short documentary highlights the importance and vulnerability of the mighty watershed through the impassioned voices of those who rely on its health and work for its protection. Watch Cold Amazon

Watch Cold Amazon here.

Canada’s Great Basin

Canada’s Great Basin illustrates the central role that the Mackenzie River Basin plays ecologically, culturally, and economically for both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. The report highlights the importance of the Mackenzie River Basin, and what governments, foundations, NGOs, and individual Canadians can do to ensure its survival.

Read the report here.

The Rosenberg International Forum

The Rosenberg International Forum – an international group of leading scientists and legal experts in water issues – hosted a workshop examining the changes occurring in the Mackenzie River Basin, and the impact of these changes at the local and global level. This workshop culminated in the release of recommendations on ways to ensure sustainable management of the Basin

Read the report here.




More information on the Mackenzie River Basin: