TOWARDS RECONCILIATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Organized by the Partnership for Water Sustainability, the Blue Ecology Workshop mainstreamed Michael Blackstock’s vision for interweaving Indigenous knowledge & Western science (November 2017)


All of us have an impact on the land, on the water, and on the way things look. And decisions made today will ripple through time. The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia showcases big ideas through its annual workshop series. We do this to inform choices about land and water.

Michael Blackstock’s big idea for interweaving First Nations cultural knowledge and Western science – Blue Ecology – is especially powerful. The essence of Michael’s vision is ‘embrace a water-first approach’. It is an idea whose time has come.

In the 5th in an Annual Workshop Series, the Partnership’s Ted van der Gulik along with two well-known personalities – the CBC’s Bob McDonald (host, Quirks & Quarks) and Member of Parliament Fin Donnelly – teamed with Michael to share their unique and complementary perspectives on a water-first approach.

The Fraser River was a centrepiece for the workshop program.

Blue Ecology: A Bridging Philosophy

“Over the generations, we have lost our way,” states Michael Blackstock. “Western science is not wrong. It is just not complete. It does not account for water as part of a living ecosystem. The journey to a water-resilient future starts with Western science acknowledging water for its central functional and spiritual roles in our world.

A New Way of Looking at Water

“Blue Ecology is an ecological philosophy, which emerged from interweaving First Nations and Western thought. It is meant to be a companion because it augments existing Western science hydrology rather than displacing this knowledge.

“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. Blue Ecology’s philosophy is meant to be the bridge between these two cultural ways of knowing.

“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. There is hope for future generations if we take a water-first approach to setting priorities,” concludes Michael Blackstock.

To Learn More:

Download “Blue Ecology – interweaving First Nations cultural knowledge and Western science” for a program overview.

To access a comprehensive set of legacy resources, visit the homepage for the Blue Ecology Workshop at

Read 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

Watch the Videos!

The 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.

To view the videos, visit

Blue Ecology water cycle and principles, designed by Michael D. Blackstock as a companion to the conventional science-based Water Cycle.