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Blue Ecology / Michael Blackstock

FIRE WEATHER SEVERITY: ‘Abnormally dry’ conditions across Pacific Northwest could spell long wildfire season for British Columbia (May 2019)


“The signs of climate change are all around us. Earth mother’s lifeblood (i.e. water) is becoming sparse in the Pacific Northwest, and some Indigenous Elders say this is happening because humans are not showing respect to water,” said Michael Blackstock. “Water withdraws itself from the disrespectful. Water is transforming from ice, to sea and river water, and then to traversing atmospheric rivers. Water was sleeping as ice, but now it is moving rapidly and unpredictably around our planet. Some places are deluged, while others lay tongue-parched.”

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“In October, 2018, faculty engaged in water research from a broad range of disciplines across the UBC Okanagan campus welcomed Michael Blackstock to share his theory of Blue Ecology and interweaving Indigenous and western science,” reports Marni Turek


“It is interesting to hear the journey from which Michael’s ideas on water leadership evolved, starting with asking what he refers to as a deceptively simple question, “What is water?”. Seeking out opportunities to enrich thinking and learning around water values is important and the Water Research Network is very appreciative for Michael sharing his truly inspirational views and message of hope for a new attitude… one that embraces a water-first approach,” stated Marni Turek.

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“Blue Ecology is a means to focus, with new watery eyes, on the current crisis of climate change. A new culture of water is needed in order for humans to adapt,” wrote Michael Blackstock, a champion for interweaving Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Western Science


“Hydrologists are encouraged to embrace the companion Blue Ecology water cycle that is meant to enhance Western science’s hydrological cycle by providing a holistic cultural context. Hydrologists and water managers could also communicate complex climate change impacts to the public, using common sense terms. Hydrologists and water managers can use the hydrological and Blue Ecology cycles to help explain how and why the climate is changing. Water is a core human interest upon which we can build collaborative cross-cultural climate change strategies,” stated Michael Blackstock.

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CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION: “If communities are to adapt, and be quick about it, we must move beyond ‘shock and yawn’,” wrote Bob McDonald in a co-authored opinion piece published by the Vancouver Sun (November 2017)


“No longer is climate change a future scenario. It has happened more quickly than predicted. The real story is the accelerating rate of change, especially since extreme events create their own weather,” stated Bob McDonald. “As glaciers disappear and droughts become more frequent, it is vital, in every sense of the word to manage our most precious resource wisely. Actually adapting requires transformational changes in how we apply hydrologic understanding.”

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LOOKING AT WATER THROUGH DIFFERENT LENSES: “The Blue Ecology concept for ‘interweaving’ Western and Indigenous thought goes to the heart of bringing different worlds together,” stated Fin Donnelly – Member of Parliament, founder & Chair of the Rivershed Society of British Columbia


“The Fraser River is my passion. The Fraser is one of the most diverse river basins in North America. The Fraser River’s diversity – including people and landscapes – inspires me. However, we need to apply ‘Watershed CPR’ to the Fraser to return it to health,” stated Fin Donnelly. “When collaboration is a common or shared value, the right mix of people and perspectives will create the conditions for change. We need a paradigm-shift in the way we do things.”

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GENESIS OF BLUE ECOLOGY: “Water – A First Nation’s Spiritual and Ecological Perspective”, a paper by Michael Blackstock, professional forester and scholar of Gitxsan descent, published in 2001


At the age of 86, Mildred Michell agreed to be interviewed by Michael Blackstock on the importance of water to our lives. She was a highly respected and knowledgeable Elder in her Nation and by other Nations in the southern Interior. She was very concerned that the water was drying up, about pollution, and about the changes in the weather’s annual cycle. Her last words to Michael Blackstock were: “Now that I shared my teachings and worries about water, what are you going to do about it?” She passed away from a stroke moments after she said those words.

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LOOKING AT WATER THROUGH DIFFERENT LENSES: “downstream: reimagining water” (2017) – anthology co-edited by Dorothy Christian and Rita Wong envisions an intergenerational, culturally inclusive, participatory water ethic to tackle climate change


“This book explores the key roles that culture, arts, and the humanities play in supporting healthy water-based ecology and provides local, global, and Indigenous perspectives on water that help to guide our societies in a time of global warming,” wrote Dr. Dorothy Christian, co-editor. She is dedicated to building and strengthening any alliances with non-Indigenous communities who are open to hearing how Indigenous ways of knowing informs relationships amongst all living things.

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BOOK LAUNCH: “downstream: reimagining water” envisions a new water ethic


“The book ‘downstream: reimagining water’ is an anthology,” explains Michael Blackstock. “It brings together the perspectives of artists, writers, scientists, scholars, environmentalists, and activists. It does this by exploring the key roles that culture, arts, and the humanities play in supporting healthy water-based ecology. My chapter is titled Interweaving Water. It outlines four steps toward transforming sovereign knowledge into collaborative knowledge.”

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OP-ED ARTICLE: The Moment of Truth for a Changing Climate (published in the Vancouver Sun in January 2017)


“Blue Ecology is defined as the interweaving of Western science and traditional First Nations teaching and local knowledge,” stated Kim Stephens. “This article is an early step in a process to raise awareness of Blue Ecology and inform a provincial conversation about what we can do to manage water as a whole-system. Blue Ecology aligns with the whole-system, water balance approach for restoration of watershed systems within the built environment.”

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“I created Blue Ecology, by interweaving the best threads of Indigenous and Western Science, to lay a new foundation, to make water-first decisions,” stated Michael Blackstock at the FLOWnGROW workshop (Nov 2016)


“Hydrologists are encouraged to embrace the companion Blue Ecology water cycle that is meant to enhance Western science’s hydrological cycle by providing a holistic cultural context,” stated Michael Blackstock. “Hydrologists and water managers could also communicate complex climate change impacts to the public, using common sense terms. Hydrologists and water managers can use the hydrological and Blue Ecology cycles to help explain how and why the climate is changing.”

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