WATERSHEDS 2020: Stepping Stones to Collaborative Watershed Governance in British Columbia (a virtual forum hosted by the University of Victoria’s POLIS Project on October 15-16, 2020)
Note to Reader:
Hosted by the POLIS Water Sustainability Project, Watersheds 2020 is the latest in their ongoing series of “Watersheds” forums that are designed to inspire and nourish B.C.’s water community. By bringing together a diverse community of water leaders—including Indigenous Nations, watershed groups, local and provincial government staff, funders, and a network of practitioners and champions—POLIS believes these forums offer a chance for deeper understanding of emerging issues, as well as opportunities to create change and build community resilience and long-term watershed security.
WHAT IS WATERSHEDS 2020?
The forum purpose is to bring together a diverse community of water leaders in B.C.—including Indigenous Nations, watershed groups, local and provincial governments, funders, resource managers, scholars and researchers, and a network of practitioners and champions—to build and deepen connections, learn from one another, and explore opportunities for improved watershed decision-making and longer-term watershed security.
WHY WATERSHED GOVERNANCE? WHY NOW?
From record-breaking droughts and floods to conflicts over use and rights, British Columbia’s fresh water is facing increasing threats. Addressing current and looming freshwater challenges as well as changing realities requires new partnerships and innovative forms of collaborative governance to respond to the many social and ecological needs of our watersheds.
October 15, 2020
9:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. PT
Day 1 includes an Opening and Closing Ceremony offered by Coast Salish Elder Florence James (Penelakut Island, BC) and Anishinaabe/Métis scholar Dr. Vicki Kelly (Simon Fraser University), who is participating from the traditional territory of the Sagamok Anishnawbek, the Serpent River First Nation and the Mississauga First Nation, Ontario.
Day 1 includes two main sessions:
KEYNOTE ADDRESS – “INDIGENOUS LAW, RECONCILIATION AND GOVERNANCE – INSIGHTS AND PERSPECTIVE FOR THE FUTURE”
Details: The keynote session features Dr. John Borrows (Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law) and weave together thoughts and reflections on the themes of reconciliation, Indigenous law, and governance from leading thinkers and practitioners in this space.
Dr. Borrows will open the session, sharing insights and teachings from his recent work on Indigenous law and ethics. Discussants will ground the conversation in the context of watershed governance, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Water Sustainability Act, exploring ways in which decision making, laws, and relationships can—and must—evolve to advance reconciliation and watershed security.
SESSION 2: “STEPPING STONES TO WATERSHED GOVERNANCE – INITIATIVES ‘ON THE GROUND AND IN THE WATER’ ”
Details: Innovative approaches to watershed governance are emerging and developing in watersheds across BC. Although no one-size-fits-all approach to improved watershed decision-making and collaboration exists since each place faces different impacts, histories, relationships, risks and needs, the range of initiatives underway offer important cross-cutting learnings, insights, and milestones.
Building on the “Stepping Stones to Watershed Governance” framework—an approach that illustrates the milestones that must be in place to shift to more sustainable and equitable decision-making—this session will include innovation around the Water Sustainability Plan scoping work and partnership for the Koksilah River (Xwulqw’selu Sto’lo) Watershed, the historic ʔElhdaqox Dechen Ts’edilhtan (“ʔEsdilagh Sturgeon River Law”), and the Syilx (Okanagan) Lake Watershed Planning.
October 16, 2020
The second day of Watersheds 2020 will offer concurrent sessions on issues related to sustainable funding, leveraging technological innovation for watershed health, how storytelling can lead to action, among others.