Vancouver Island Water

The island is a demonstration region for the ‘regional team approach’. Communicate. Cooperate. Coordinate. Collaborate. Share resources and learn from each other. CAVI, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island-Leadership in Water Sustainability, started with a conversation in 2005. Formally launched in September 2006, and funded by government, the form of the initiative has evolved over the years. The program has demonstrated what can be done through partnerships and collaboration.

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BOWKER CREEK BLUEPRINT IS A BEACON OF INSPIRATION: “We are taking a new direction. We are saying that we can improve the health of Bowker. But there is still more pollution happening. We can see it happening. And so, we the Friends of Bowker Creek, are stepping it up,” stated Jessica Hartum, the Director who is leading a grass-roots water quality monitoring program

“I am a water quality person and I believe that it is a steppingstone to everything else. Water quality is close to my heart. But I understand where we are in this world and that nobody is buying in for water quality alone. In my view, water quality is a lot bigger than just the salmon. But I do recognize that water quality and fish habitat are a package. Neither one is complete without the other one. We have to do both together. When I show community volunteers the insects that are in the water and what they mean, everyone has an Ah-Ha Moment,” stated Jessica Hartum.

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WATER RECONCILIATION IS ABOUT INTERWEAVING INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE & WESTERN SCIENCE: “Interweaving is not integration, just as equality is not about assimilation and creativity is not empirical. Interweaving is collaborative and incremental rather than a revolutionary process,” stated Michael Blackstock, Independent Indigenous Scholar and founder of the Blue Ecology Institute (October 2021)

“Blue Ecology is meant to be a companion because it augments existing Western science hydrology rather than displacing this knowledge. Collaborators identify packets of knowledge that would benefit from the interweaving process. My question for the Western science world is this: Are you prepared and willing to change your definition of water in science? This is what reconciliation really gets down to when we are talking about interweaving Indigenous knowledge and Western science,” stated Michael Blackstock.

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PROGRAM BROCHURE FOR WATERSHED MOMENTS 2021 / BLUE ECOLOGY VIRTUAL SEMINAR: Partnership for Water Sustainability and NALT release panel information and registration details for ‘bridging event” during the evening of November 18, 2021

Richard Boase, Section Manager Environmental Sustainability (Operations) with the District of North Vancouver, returns as Moderator for the 4th annual event in the Watershed Moments Series. He has a deep understanding of the subject matter resulting from three decades of stewardship work through a local government lens, has an innate ability to ask the questions that get to the heart of the matter, shares his enthusiasm with panelists and audience alike and sometimes even surprises the organizers with impromptu action items.

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HISTORICAL CONTEXT FOR WATERSHED MOMENTS 2021 / BLUE ECOLOGY VIRTUAL SEMINAR: “While international recognition gave Blue Ecology early credibility and profile, there was limited awareness within British Columbia of what Michael Blackstock had accomplished on the global stage,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability, when explaining the Partnership’s commitment to mainstreaming Blue Ecology (October 2021)

“Blue Ecology has been a two-decade long journey of discovery for Michael Blackstock, highlighted by his appointment to a UNESCO Expert Panel for a 4-year term in 2008. His work on the Expert Panel resulted in an invitation to share his Blue Ecology message at an international symposium. In 2021, the Watershed Moments team embraced the Blue Ecology idea, and committed to the vision for Water Reconciliation as an outcome. This means going back to the headwaters of where we got our relationships with water and with one another wrong,” stated Kim Stephens,

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YOUTH EDUCATION CONTEXT FOR WATERSHED MOMENTS 2021 / BLUE ECOLOGY VIRTUAL SEMINAR: “Ecological learning and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples go hand in hand. We have a great deal to learn in our quest to live more gently and conscientiously here on Earth, a theme which is central to many Indigenous teachings,” stated Steph Cottell, Executive Director, Cowichan Community Land Trust (October 2021)

The 4-person panel will share their experiences in trail-blazing watershed education for youth. Michael Blackstock of the Blue Ecology Institute is joined by Linda Brooymans, Steph Cottell and Tina Willard-Stepan. Blue Ecology, the interweaving of Indigenous and Western water stewardship knowledge is the over-arching theme for the event. “It is with humbleness and deep appreciation that we invite Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers to share their wisdom and help us on the path to better water ways,” stated Steph Cottell.

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CULTURAL CONTEXT FOR WATERSHED MOMENTS 2021 / BLUE ECOLOGY VIRTUAL SEMINAR: “We have landed at the crux of two of the most important issues facing Canadians – relationships with First Nations and relationships with water,” stated Paul Chapman, Chair of the Watershed Moments Series, when he explained why the seminar is a bridging event (October 2021)

“The Blue Ecology Virtual Seminar is a bridging event to the next full-scale symposium which will be in 2022. The seminar will introduce Blue Ecology the idea as a way of interweaving Indigenous and Western perspectives to achieve a vision for ‘water reconciliation’ in British Columbia. We just happen to be trying to piece them together as a seminar and eventually as symposium! We must ensure that we do not rush the process. We must get the process right, and that what we deliver is the water reconciliation piece,” stated Paul Chapman.

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CLIMATE ADAPTATION CONTEXT FOR WATERSHED MOMENTS 2021 / BLUE ECOLOGY VIRTUAL SEMINAR: “We are giving the public this false sense that we have a level of control that we do not have. That is why I did the Climate Change Thermostat – to get that idea across to audiences,” stated Michael Blackstock at the founding event for the Blue Ecology Institute (September 2021)

The “slice-and-dice” approach to science does not account for the interaction of variables within a system. Nor does it distinguish between preciseness and accuracy. “An image of a committee with their hands on a thermostat popped into my mind. And they are trying to adjust it. There is so much arrogance in that, and so much naivety at the same time, to believe that we actually have the ability as a global human society to turn this dial plus or minus 0.1 degrees. The reality is that we do not have that ability,” stated Michael Blackstock.

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SCHOOL WATER STEWARDS IN THE NANAIMO REGION: “The program provides grade-appropriate curriculum-linked lessons and stewardship activities connecting students to our local freshwater resources and associated ecosystems,” stated Linda Brooymans, Stewardship Coordinator with the Nanaimo & Area Land Trust, and a panel member for the Blue Ecology Virtual Seminar on November 18, 2021

In late 2017, NALT was approach by a grade 7 teacher and challenged with devising a way to include a marsh adjacent to the school grounds in the stewardship education of the students. “Now embedded as a core component of NALT outreach and education, it is our hope to foster a culture of stewardship through our program by giving students as many opportunities as possible during their time at their school to learn about and explore their local streams and wetlands,” stated Linda Brooymans.

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CONNECTED BY WATER IN THE COMOX VALLEY: “Together we are creating this legacy of acting together to ensure the health and long-term viability of our communities through using our drinking water wisely, and protecting the source of our drinking water,” stated Christina (Tina) Willard-Stepan, Facilitator and Environmental Educator for the Comox Valley Regional District and a panel member for the Blue Ecology Virtual Seminar on November 18, 2021

“The Comox Valley Regional District has developed teaching materials to support students in learning about their connections to the Comox Lake watershed, learning what makes a watershed healthy, and learning how to conserve water by using it efficiently at home. The resources are informed by the Watershed Protection Plan, and the Connected by Water project vision, all within the framework of the British Columbia Ministry of Education Curriculum,” stated Christina (Tina) Willard-Stepan.

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BEST WATER WAYS IN THE COWICHAN REGION: “It is so satisfying working with schools and groups to nurture an active relationship with the local watershed, and empowering youth with knowledge and skills to restore and care for the watershed is vital for our collective future,” stated Stephanie Cottell, Executive Director with the Cowichan Community Land Trust, and a panel member for the Blue Ecology Virtual Seminar on November 18, 2021

“It is vitally important that youth learn about their local watersheds, and how to protect, steward, and restore them. And so the Best Water Ways: Watershed Literacy, Stewardship, and Restoration initiative was born. The learning suite was inspired, designed, and developed within the Unceded Traditional Territory of several Hul’qumi’num speaking communities that are part of the far-reaching Coast Salish Nation. Local Indigenous Ecological and Cultural Knowledge in today’s classrooms is invaluable,” stated Stephanie Cottell.

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