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2017 Blue Ecology

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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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 WORKSHOP: Module 1 – Fin Donnelly, founder of the Rivershed Society of BC will tell the story of his swims down the Fraser River and will “Connect the Drops” (November 28, 2017 in Richmond)


Fin Donnelly’s love affair with the Fraser River began more than two decades ago. As a young man, he was a marathon swimmer, crossing the Strait of Georgia several times. But it was his journey down the length of the Fraser River in 1995 that changed his life. It was a 1,400-kilometre swim, which he completed over 21 days. Following his epic swim, Donnelly and others formed the nonprofit Rivershed Society to promote public education about the Fraser River Basins.

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: Module 2 – Ted van der Gulik has a compelling story about “The Fraser River, Agriculture and Food Security” (November 28, 2017 in Richmond)


“Agriculture’s need for water will only increase as summers get longer, hotter and drier. The Ministry of Agriculture has developed a Water Demand Model that can determine agriculture’s water requirements today and in the future,” states Ted van der Gulik. “Climate change will raise sea levels and bring sea water farther up the Fraser River. This will limit the number of hours per year that fresh water is accessible for irrigation water supply in the Delta.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: Module 3 – Bob McDonald reflects on “Water from a Global Perspective & Beyond” (November 28, 2017 in Richmond)


Bob McDonald translates complex scientific information in a way that is both fascinating and easily understood by his audiences. “Water is THE issue of the 21st century, both around the world and even here in Canada where we have more water than anyone. As glaciers disappear and droughts become more frequent, it is vital, in every sense of the word to manage our most precious resource wisely,” states Bob McDonald.

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: Module 4 – Michael Blackstock presents the case for “An Attitude Switch” (November 28, 2017 in Richmond)


The journey to a water-resilient future starts with Western science acknowledging water for its central functional and spiritual roles in our world. “Attitude influences behavior,” states Michael Blackstock. “Blue Ecology is a new cross cultural approach which inspires a new attitude towards water.  There is good reason to have a strong belief in hope, instead of fear, while facing climate change.  The good news…it costs nothing to switch our corporate or personal attitude.” 

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: Program Preview – Partnership for Water Sustainability unveils the program for interweaving First Nations cultural knowledge and Western science (November 28, 2017 in Richmond)


“The program is visionary yet pragmatic. Bob McDonald, Fin Donnelly and Michael Blackstock are a powerful trio. The Blue Ecology theme, blending First Nations cultural knowledge and Western Science challenges us to be more inclusive when addressing watershed systems,” observes Eric Bonham. “If we can create a documentary out of the workshop that blends Michael’s central message with commentary from Bob and Fin we will have a powerful message indeed.”

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