Lifetime Member – Lynn Kriwoken (inducted in 2021)

Note to Reader:

Lynn Kriwoken played an instrumental role in the creation and launching of the Water Sustainability Action Plan in February 2004. A true visionary, Lynn saw how the Water Sustainability Action Plan would provide an umbrella for on-the-ground initiatives that would inform provincial policy through the shared responsibility model. There was a natural fit. Her advocacy within government was essential to securing a flow of provincial funding that got the ball rolling and resulted in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Without Lynn Kriwoken, there would not have been an Action Plan. It really is that simple.

An introduction to Lynn Kriwoken

Lynn Kriwoken retired from government as the Executive Director of Water Protection and Sustainability with the British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. Lynn devoted her career to water resource management starting in work with indigenous communities in the Mackenzie River Basin, James Bay and Hudson Bay Lowlands. Over her 30-year career, her work spanned the development and delivery of a range of water programs, policies, agreements and initiatives.

Recognized as an innovator and change leader, Lynn’s accomplishments are founded on a basis of relationships, collaboration and trust. In the last phase of her career, Lynn had the privilege of leading the provincial water program in charting the direction for water governance and management in BC for the 21st century.

Lynn had represented British Columbia on the Mackenzie River Basin Board since 2001 and was the province’s lead in negotiating and implementing bilateral transboundary water agreements with other jurisdictions in the Basin.  Lynn is a Geographer and holds a Master’s Degree in Resource and Environmental Management.

The following description of Lynn’s career is reproduced from the nomination that the Partnership for Water Sustainability submitted to the Order of British Columbia

Lynn Kriwoken’s relentless advocacy for water sustainability and her visionary and collaborative leadership over three decades in the provincial public service was responsible for ushering in a new era of sustainable water management in British Columbia.

In the 1990’s, limitations with British Columbia (BC)’s water policies became increasingly problematic. The 100+ year-old Water Act required substantial changes to enable BC to manage water sustainably in the face of a growing population, climate change and water scarcity and a renewed interest among First Nations and local governments for a greater role in decision making for water.

First, BC’s Water Protection Act:

In the mid-1990’s, Lynn assumed a leading role developing BC’s Water Protection Act, which prohibited bulk export of water from BC. This was one of Lynn’s first major contributions towards improving water sustainability in BC.

Modernizing BC’s water management was a significant challenge and demanded creative policy development, as well as strong trusting partnerships with business and landowners, local communities, industry, stewardship groups and First Nations.

Achieving success required balancing a wide range of – and at times conflicting – water interests. Lynn’s vision and collaborative leadership, her relentless pursuit to develop leading edge water policy for BC, gained her much respect from her peers, the academic sector, industry, communities, First Nations and political leaders alike.

Then, Living Water Smart:

In subsequent years, Lynn led the development of the Living Water Smart (LWS) plan, launched in 2008. LWS framed the vision for sustainable water stewardship and set in motion a process to engage thousands of British Columbians over a 5-year period, including First Nations, stewardship groups, industry, and the academic sector in crafting government’s future water policy.

It was a call to action on many fronts and Lynn excelled at working with these diverse groups, seeking common ground and collaboration to address water sustainability. Three of Lynn’s outstanding achievements under Living Water Smart include the following:

  • Lynn’s efforts resulted in the WSA coming into effect in 2016 to replace the old Water Act, enabling government to finally regulate groundwater use for the first time in BC’s history, managing surface water and groundwater as a single resource, and setting a legally-binding framework for Water Sustainability Plans. The WSA is landmark legislation that brought BC to the forefront nationally in water management.
  • Lynn was also a leading driver in the development and on-going implementation of three Bilateral Water Management Agreements with Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, and Alberta, including Indigenous partners. These progressive Agreements negotiated under the Mackenzie River Basin Master Agreement represent extraordinary opportunities for collaborative, proactive and innovative management of our transboundary waters. The investments led by Lynn are recognized globally as exemplary practice in multi-jurisdictional water management and have set the stage for water leadership and true reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in BC and Canada.
  • In the last 5 years in government, Lynn worked diligently with five First Nations in the Nicola River watershed to enable the province and First Nation governments to jointly explore collaborative decision making models for water. The collaborative work that Lynn and her colleagues accomplished will contribute significantly to the process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in BC.

Lynn’s exceptional leadership and tenacity has produced the outstanding achievements described above that will benefit BC for generations to come!

The Day Job May Be Over, But the Mission Continues!

“In my ‘happyment’, I am committed to water in my two backyards,” says Lynn Kriwoken.

“First, I am a Trustee and Chair of the Oceanview Improvement District which serves my neighbourhood in Mill Bay on Vancouver Island. We are responsible for ensuring safe drinking water, from our 300 ft. deep bedrock aquifer, for our small community of 22 homes.”

“Secondly, I am President of the Whistler Lakes Conservation Association, incorporated in June 2020 just a couple of months after my retirement from government. For those who know me, it will come as no surprise that I’ve got the board doing visioning and strategic planning around the 7th Generation principle. My daughters are 4th generation Whistler kids, and their grandkids will make it 7 generations.”

“The primary goal is to preserve the pristine lakes of Whistler.  This goal is not new to this area because Whistler is on the shared, unceded ancestral lands of the Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh Úxumixw, people of the Squamish Nation and the L̓il̓wat7úl, the people of the Lil’wat Nation.”

“The use of the word ‘shared’ represents a unique historic protocol agreement signed in March 2001, between the Lil’wat Nation, Squamish Nation and Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW).  It provides a framework for the establishment of stronger government-to-government-to-government relationships. This agreement seeks to continue to build the tri-partite relationship and move forward key areas of mutual interest.”

Whistler Lakes Volunteer Lake Monitoring  Program

“After incorporation,” continues Lynn Kriwoken, “I spent the next 9-month period  building the Whistler Lakes Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program under the WLCA ; with growing concerns about the impact of human activity in and around Whistler lakes, a stewardship group like WLCA is timely. It provides a strong linkage back to my water literacy/stewardship ethic quotable quote (above).”

Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director, presents the “certificate of recognition” to Lynn Kriwoken in July 2022.

We Take Care of Our Water, Our Water Takes Care of Us

Created by Lynn Kriwoken in collaboration with Carina Nilsson, graphics designer, the  image below encapsulates and gives an immediate sense of the HISTORY OF WATER in British Columbia. This unique way of visualizing the ‘water story’ provides a natural entry point for the highlighting of Lynn’s timely contributions. Click on the image to view a high resolution version.


Lynn Kriwoken recognized an opportunity and seized the moment to create the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia through partnerships

“The 2001 provincial election resulted in a change in government, with Gordon Campbell elected as Premier. His grasp of water issues meant that BC’s top decision-maker was a ‘water champion’ whose interests encompassed the vision for the Water Sustainability Action Plan,” recalls Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.

Charting  a New Course

“In his mandate letter to the Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection, for example, the Premier framed objectives for three key areas of the Ministry’s Service Plan as follows:

  • “increased service delivery through partnerships;
  • facilitation of community initiatives to protect and restore their local environment; and
  • the strategic shift from sole protector of the environment to shared stewardship – sharing responsibility for the environment with others.”

“Lynn connected the dots between her Ministry’s Service Plan and the Action Plan potential. There was a natural fit.  Thus, this statement of intent crafted by Lynn Kriwoken became our call to action:

The Water Sustainability Action Plan provides an umbrella for on-the-ground initiatives that are informing Provincial policy through the shared responsibility model.”

“In 2003, this ‘top-down and bottom-up’ context for action represented a remarkable paradigm-shift in guiding philosophy for government.”