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Partnership for Water Sustainability Annual Workshop Series

BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP (November 28, 2017): “The vision for a water-first approach is an idea whose time has come – and a set of videos uploaded to YouTube provide a permanent record of this watershed moment,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia


“The Partnership showcases big ideas through its annual workshop series,” stated Kim Stephens. “The Blue Ecology workshop has been captured in its entirety in a set of videos that have been uploaded to YouTube for ease of access by those who are curious and/or interested to learn about what transpired at the workshop. Or simply refresh their memories. The video for each module includes the featured speaker plus the ensuing town-hall interaction with the audience.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY VIDEO 1: “Because the over-arching theme of the workshop is interweaving Indigenous and Western thought, we invited the Musqueam to attend and provide a traditional welcome,” stated Kim Stephens


“Water and land are inseparable,” stated Morgan Guerin, Musqueam First Nation fisheries officer and Councillor, when informed about the Blue Ecology program (and which was held on the traditional territory of the Musqueam). “They are inseparable just like you cannot separate blood from the body. Because then both would die.” This statement led into a discussion of how land development alters the natural water balance and results in cumulative effects (or impacts). “It is death by a 1000 cuts. As a fisheries officer, I see those consequences. We must do business differently.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY VIDEO 2: “When collaboration is a common or shared value, the right mix of people and perspectives will create the conditions for change. We need a paradigm-shift in the way we do things,” said Fin Donnelly – Member of Parliament, founder & Chair of the Rivershed Society of British Columbia


“I learned about the issues threatening the health of BC’s longest river in university. I experienced those issues and drew attention to the world’s greatest salmon river in a unique way, by twice swimming its 1,400km length. And because the need for Watershed CPR (Conservation-Protection-Restoration) is urgent, my goal is to inspire and encourage British Columbians to take action and apply CPR,” stated Fin Donnelly. “I can relate to Michael Blackstock’s Blue Ecology vision in that it interweaves Western science with Indigenous traditional knowledge.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY VIDEO 3: “The Fraser Valley alone could provide two-thirds of the additional irrigated land area that is needed for food security. Think about that,” stated Ted van der Gulik, President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability


“The agricultural area irrigated in the Fraser Valley is substantial – for example, it is about 1.4 times that in the Okanagan, a fact that is not intuitive to most people,” stated Ted van der Gulik. “Also, the potential buildout for irrigated farmland in the Fraser Valley is about 2.4 times what is currently irrigated. The Fraser River would be able to supply much of the water required. But delivering the water would require a huge investment in infrastructure.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY VIDEO 4: “Given his natural ability to relay complex scientific information in an easy to understand and fun way is always a highlight when Bob McDonald speaks at a Partnership workshop or conference,” stated Eric Bonham, founding member and elder statesman, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC


“Bob McDonald’s observation that climate change is a reality and needs an immediate and collective response given water is the issue of the 21st century, is timely, and a message that cannot be repeated enough. That said, we share a positive vision of the future, seeking solutions through collaborative partnerships and a realignment of the water story,” stated Eric Bonham. “His thought provoking presentation of ‘Water from a Global Perspective and Beyond’ truly provides the focus and context to rethink the invaluable role that water plays in our collective survival,”

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BLUE ECOLOGY VIDEO 5: “Climate change is here. And it has happened quickly. More quickly than predicted. The real story is the accelerating rate of change, especially since extreme events are creating their own weather. In British Columbia, wildfires will shape our future,” stated 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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BLUE ECOLOGY VIDEO 6: “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, independent scholar and developer of the Blue Ecology ecological philosophy


Blue Ecology is an ecological philosophy developed by Michael Blackstock, professional forester and scholar. Blue Ecology looks at the water cycle differently to interweave First Nations and Western thought. Michael Blackstock has a vision: British Columbia water managers would embrace the Blue Ecology water cycle; our communities would become more water-resilient; and we would successfully adapt to a changing climate. His innovative thinking is recognized by UNESCO and the International Association of Hydrological Sciences.

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: A testimonial to Ted van der Gulik – “The fact that we now have to contend with both severe summer drought and sea rise made Ted’s talk all the more timely and relevant,” wrote Eric Bonham


Ted’s informative presentation on the anticipated impacts on food security from climate change was well received and was a natural follow up to Fin Donnelly’s talk on the challenges of maintaining a healthy Fraser River system. “The most productive agricultural land is situated in the lower Fraser Valley. This is one of the most productive agricultural regions in all of Canada. Half the total provincial farm gate receipts come from the Fraser Valley.” stated Ted van der Gulik.

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: A testimonial to Fin Donnelly – “he walks the talk, effectively communicating on an intergenerational level through community engagement,” wrote Eric Bonham


Fin Donnelly’s commitment and passion in both identifying and addressing the complex range of issues that challenge the health of the Fraser River gave invaluable insight and understanding of the need for an holistic approach and engagement by a range of participants. Also, his definition of “Rivershed” is a more inclusive term than Watershed, providing a sense of place, hence placing responsibility and commitment at the local level, a role that community stewards and local governments can effectively embrace.

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: A testimonial to Bob McDonald – “he has a natural ability to relay complex scientific information in an easy to understand and fun way,” wrote Eric Bonham


Bob McDonald’s observation that climate change is a reality and needs an immediate and collective response given water is the issue of the 21st century, is timely, and a message that cannot be repeated enough. That said, and as noted in the collective article in the Vancouver Sun, Bob and the Partnership for Water Sustainability share a positive vision of the future, seeking solutions through collaborative partnerships and a realignment of the water story.

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