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Partnership for Water Sustainability Annual Workshop Series

REGISTER NOW for an inspirational workshop on “Blue Ecology – interweaving First Nations cultural knowledge and Western science” (November 28, 2017 in Richmond)


“For the fifth straight year, the Irrigation Industry Association of BC and the Partnership for Water Sustainability are partnering to co-host a workshop that will mainstream a ‘big idea’ and provide professional developmentabout water management in BC,” states Kim Schaefer. “This year the workshop moves back to the Lower Mainland after being held in the Okanagan (2016), Lower Mainland (2013, 2015) and on Vancouver Island (2014).”

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: “Water is our lifeblood as Musqueam,” says Morgan Guerin – he will provide the First Nations welcome to address protocol and set the table for workshop guests at Richmond venue


Morgan Guerin, secəlenəχʷ, is a Fisheries Officer and an elected Councillor for the Musqueam Indian Band. “The Musqueam equivalent of cathedral thinking is called ‘seven generations’. We look back seven generations. You have to look back far in order to be able to look far ahead,” stated Morgan Guerin. “Plant seeds in minds. Think about what you want in the future. Say something enough times and people will hear it.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP – MODULE 2 (Nov 28, 2017): “Climate change may drastically impact the availability of fresh water for agriculture on Canada’s most productive agriculture land, the lower Fraser Valley,” stated Ted van der Gulik, President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability


“The critical issue is the salt wedge and window of opportunity for pumping water from the Fraser River,” stated Ted van der Gulik. “An increase in sea levels combined with a drought flow on the Fraser River would allow salt water to move further up the river in the future. This would shut down water supply intakes for a longer period of time, and could make it challenging to extract good quality irrigation water for use in Richmond and Delta.”

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“Cathedral thinking is about keeping the living generation tethered to the future,” said Rick Antonson


Cathedral thinking aptly describes the philosophy that guides the work of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. “Cathedral Thinking is so simple for people to understand. You can actually explain it in about 45 seconds, and people nod, ‘Oh yeah. If I was designing a cathedral, it was going to take 50 years to build. I wouldn’t be around so I need to have a design that somebody else can finish, and that somebody else after them has to be able to finish it. I get it. Done’,” said Rick Antonson.

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP – MODULE 1 (Nov 28, 2017): “The Fraser River’s diversity – including people and landscapes – inspires me. However, we need to apply ‘Watershed CPR’ to the Fraser to return it to health,” says Fin Donnelly – Member of Parliament, founder & Chair of the Rivershed Society of British Columbia


“The Blue Ecology Workshop encourages you to look at water differently; to look at each other differently – in a new way.” states Fin Donnelly. “Seize the opportunity to share experiences, knowledge and learn from one another’s perspectives! In my judgment, the Blue Ecology Workshop has the potential to be a transformational event – especially if water professionals who participate see value in working with others.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY – A Realignment of the Water Story: “It must be simple to understand, yet inclusive and firmly grounded in reality, embracing both science and spiritual values in equal measure,” stated Eric Bonham, founding member, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC


“The news from the natural world this last summer has been mostly about water or lack thereof, understandably so, given the devastating hurricanes experienced in the southern states and the equally devastating fires raging throughout British Columbia,” wrote Eric Bonham. “Given the central role of water in these changing circumstances calls for a re-visit of the water story.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP – MODULE 3 (Nov 28, 2017): “Climate change is no longer in the future. It is here. It is real. If we are to adapt, and be quick about it, we really must move beyond ‘shock and yawn’,” says Bob McDonald, national science commentator for CBC Television


“A recent interview with a UN diplomat got me thinking. The real issue is public engagement, he said. We are at a moment of truth. Unless the climate message offers hope, he explained, individuals will not be motivated to take action in the face of change. Yet action does need to happen quickly. Because Blue Ecology is a message of hope, I believe it is an idea whose time has come,” stated Bob McDonald.

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Water – A First Nation’s Spiritual and Ecological Perspective: Michael Blackstock’s Blue Ecology Journey began when Elder Millie Michell “passed the torch” to him in 2000


Water was very important to Millie Michell; it was important to her that children were taught to respect water. She was very concerned that the water was drying up, about pollution, and about the changes in the weather’s annual cycle. Elders such as Millie Michell emphasized the importance of groundwater. They believe that trees and vegetation act as water pumps; the trees pump water from the ground and store it in the forest.

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WORKSHOP ANNOUNCEMENT (Nov 28, 2017): “The flood, drought and fire extremes of 2017 provide both the backdrop and a focus for the Blue Ecology Workshop,” states Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia


“Opportunities for land use, infrastructure servicing and asset management practitioners to make a difference are at the time of (re)development. To those folks we say: share and learn from those who are leading change; design with nature; ‘get it right’ at the front-end of the project; build-in ‘water resilience’; create a lasting legacy,” wrote Kim Stephens. “The Partnership spotlight is on how to ‘bridge the gap’ between talk and action. That is mission possible.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP – MODULE 4 (Nov 28, 2017): “Blue Ecology is a means to focus, with new watery eyes, because an attitude switch needs to be thrown on the current crisis of climate change,” says Michael Blackstock, independent scholar and developer of the Blue Ecology ecological philosophy


“Hydrologists and water managers can help build a brighter future by rediscovering the meaning of water, and interweaving the predominant Western analytical models with the more intuitive indigenous models,” stated Michael Blackstock. “Blue Ecology is an incremental example of how we can interweave cultural perspectives on water, but that is just a starting point in this new era of interweaving.”

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