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Contextual Resources

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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“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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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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Published in 2017, “downstream: reimagining water” is an anthology that envisions an intergenerational, culturally inclusive, participatory water ethic to tackle climate change; and includes a chapter by Michael Blackstock on ‘interweaving’


“This book explores the key roles that culture, arts, and the humanities play in supporting healthy water-based ecology and provides local, global, and Indigenous perspectives on water that help to guide our societies in a time of global warming,” wrote Dr. Dorothy Christian, co-editor. She is dedicated to building and strengthening any alliances with non-Indigenous communities who are open to hearing how Indigenous ways of knowing informs relationships amongst all living things.

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FLASHBACK TO 2009: “The Role of Water Resources Management” (Proceedings of a symposium held on the island of Capri, Italy) – Michael Blackstock’s work on Blue Ecology recognized by the International Association of Hydrological Sciences


“Water is a core human interest upon which we can build collaborative cross-cultural climate change strategies,” wrote Michael Blackstock. “No longer is our goal ‘sustainable development’—to plan for a high standard of living for our children. Our goal must now be ‘sustainable survival’—to plan and behave in a cross-culturally collaborative manner that ensures children, generations from now, can survive with dignity in a world where respect for water and our climate is ubiquitous.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY: Planet Reconciliation – an article about how to enhance Western science’s knowledge of the water cycle for the benefit of hydrologists and water managers (published in Water Canada magazine, March-April 2017)


“There is hope for future generations. Success depends on embracing a water-first approach. What we are essentially talking about is RECONCILIATION: going back to the headwaters of where we got our relationships with water and with one another wrong; and then starting back down the river of time – this time together – with a full understanding of the importance of embracing a water-first approach to planning human interventions in the environment,” wrote Bob Sandford.

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FLASHBACK TO 2003: “Charting a New Course – A Vision for Integrated Water Management in British Columbia” (Okanagan launch event for Water Sustainability Action Plan)


The Blue Ecology workshop in 2017 is a natural evolution of the vision for integrated water management as shared at the 2003 focus group workshop that launched the Water Sustainability Action Plan. The approach in developing the Action Plan is grounded. “Successful initiatives inform provincial policy through the shared responsibility model,” stated Lynn Kriwoken.

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