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)

Note to Reader:

“SHARE INFORMATION. INFORM DECISIONS.” This soundbite lines up nicely with the mission of Waterbucket eNews which is to help its readers make sense of a complicated world. Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the vision for Living Water Smart in British Columbia to build greener communities and adapt to a changing climate; and embrace “design with nature” approaches to reconnect people, land, fish, and water in altered landscapes.

The edition of Waterbucket eNews published on October 12, 2021 featured the work of Michael Blackstock, Independent Indigenous Scholar and founder of the Blue Ecology Institute, and previewed the Blue Ecology Virtual Seminar. Michael Blackstock is the lead presenter on a 4-person panel. Blue Ecology, the interweaving of Indigenous and Western water stewardship knowledge is the over-arching theme for the event. The focus is on watershed education initiatives. It will be an evening event.

Watershed Moments 2021: Creating a Climate for Change

Beginning in 2018, the Partnership for Water Sustainability and NALT (Nanaimo & Area Land Trust) have co-produced Watershed Moments, the Vancouver Island Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate Annual Symposia Series. On January 20, 2022 the Partnership and NALT are hosting Watershed Moments 2021 / Blue Ecology Virtual Seminar as a bridging event. The next full-scale symposium will be in 2022.

Designed as a panel session, the 2021 bridging seminar has three objectives.

First, it will serve as the event of record for launching Michael Blackstock’s Blue Ecology Institute. The initiative is guided by a vision to build a bridge between two cultures through a water-first approach.

Secondly, 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. Michael Blackstock will prime seminar participants for their future attendance at Watershed Moments 2022: A Symposium on Blue Ecology and Water Reconciliation. Looking ahead, the symposium will showcase and celebrate “Blue Ecology in action” in the Cowichan region of Vancouver Island.

Thirdly, the 2021 seminar will showcase watershed education initiatives for school children within three Vancouver Island regional districts.

The four initiatives have a unifying thread – each addresses the “Nature-Deficit Disorder”, a term which is now widely recognized and understood. Nature-Deficit Disorder is the idea that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors, and the belief that this change results in a wide range of behavioural problems. For this reason, a goal of watershed education initiatives for schools is to reconnect children with nature.

To Register:

Visit https://www.civicinfo.bc.ca/event/2021/Blue-Ecology-Seminar. Registration is by donation because a seminar objective is to introduce Blue Ecology to the community at large. This is why it is being held in the evening on January 20, 2022 from 7PM until 9PM.

Water Reconciliation: Interweaving of Indigenous Knowledge and 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. Collaborators identify packets of knowledge that would benefit from the interweaving process. Blue Ecology is meant to be a companion because it augments existing Western science hydrology rather than displacing this knowledge,” states Michael Blackstock.

“There is a humility component to Water Reconciliation and that can be hard for both sides when we are building a bridge to connect each other. My question for the Western science world is this: Are you prepared and willing to change your definition of water in science? And if you are, what would the change in definition look like?”

“This is what reconciliation really gets down to when we are talking about interweaving Indigenous knowledge and Western science. No longer is it ceremonial.  Is Western science prepared, for example, to add the moon to the hydrologic cycle? From the Indigenous perspective, we believe it should be there! Why is it not there when the moon affects the movement of water every day?”

Interweaving: A Call for an Attitude Change

“In late September 2021, I participated in a workshop which was the founding event for the Blue Ecology Institute. Michael Blackstock shared a story about his journey to gain acceptance in the academic setting for his Blue Ecology approach to interweaving Indigenous knowledge and Western science,” continues Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director.

“One group readily embraced interweaving, he noted. Much to his surprise, he added, this group was the International Association of Hydrological Science (in 2008). Michael emphasized that it was the ‘hydrology elders’ who recognized the value of Blue Ecology.”

“Michael’s story was an Ah-ha Moment for me. It got me thinking about how to explain in simple terms what interweaving of Indigenous knowledge and Western science looks like in practice. This is what I concluded: What First Nations in British Columbia bring to the water conversation is a whole-system perspective. It is that fundamental.”

“This is what water practitioners have forgotten. It explains why in 2008 the international group of hydrology elders embraced Blue Ecology. The whole-system philosophy embedded in Blue Ecology contrasts with our contemporary Western approach which is to slice-and-dice.”

To Learn More:

To read the complete story published on October 12, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Blue Ecology Virtual Seminar on “Creating a Climate for Change”.


About the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC

Incorporation of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia as a not-for-profit society on November 19, 2010 was a milestone moment. Incorporation signified a bold leap forward. The Partnership evolved from a technical committee in the 1990s, to a “water roundtable” in the first decade of the 2000s, and then to a legal entity. The Partnership has its roots in government – local, provincial, federal.

The umbrella for Partnership initiatives and programs is the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. In turn, the Action Plan is nested within Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan. Released in 2008, Living Water Smart was the provincial government’s call to action, and to this day transcends governments.

Conceptual Framework for Inter-Generational Collaboration

Technical knowledge alone is not enough to resolve water challenges facing BC. Making things happen in the real world requires an appreciation and understanding of human behaviour, combined with a knowledge of how decisions are made. It takes a career to figure this out.

The Partnership has a primary goal, to build bridges of understanding and pass the baton from the past to the present and future. To achieve the goal, the Partnership is growing a network in the local government setting. This network embraces collaborative leadership and inter-generational collaboration.

Application of Experience, Knowledge and Wisdom

The Partnership believes that when each generation is receptive to accepting the inter-generational baton and embracing the wisdom that goes with it, the decisions of successive generations will benefit from and build upon the experience of those who went before them.

The Partnership leadership team brings experience, knowledge, and wisdom – a forceful combination to help collaborators reach their vision, mission, and goals for achieving water sustainability. When they are successful, the Partnership is successful.

The Time Continuum graphic (above) conceptualizes the way of thinking that underpins the inter-generational mission of the Partnership for Water Sustainability.  Influence choices. Capitalize on the REACHABLE and TEACHABLE MOMENTS to influence choices.


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DOWNLOAD: https://waterbucket.ca/atp/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2020/11/PWSBC_Story-of-First-Decade_Nov-2020.pdf