BLUE ECOLOGY: Blending First Nations spirituality with Western water balance science

Note to Reader:

In 2013, the Partnership for Water Sustainability and Irrigation Industry Association (IIABC) decided to co-host a year-end workshop that would be both visionary and practical, with the objective of starting a conversation around a ‘bold idea’. This collaboration has morphed into an annual workshop series.

The first three events were held in Metro Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. In 2016, the Partnership and IIABC have joined forces with the Okanagan Basin Water Board to hold the fourth in the series in Kelowna. The ‘bold idea’ that will be showcased on November 29th at the Flow and Grow Workshop is BLUE ECOLOGY, a concept pioneered by Michael Blackstock and supported by UNESCO.



FLOW AND GROW! – A workshop on HOW to respect ecosystem and cultural values, ensure food security and build water-resilient communities (Nov 29 in Kelowna)

Moving Towards “Sustainable Watershed Systems”

“It has taken more than a decade for the Province to implement a policy, program and regulatory framework that makes ‘water-resilient communities’ possible. Context, or perspective, is everything. British Columbia is on a journey that can instil an integrated land and water ethic. But this outcome will take time,” states Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.

kim-stephens_sep2016_120p“Judge progress by the distance traveled, not the distance remaining to reach the destination. Our progress will be measured in decades and possibly generations. Although BC is progressing and the trend-line is up, those involved in land and water decisions need to continually learn from experience and strive to do better.”

“Sustainable Watershed Systems is a far-reaching vision for what can be. Getting there requires a well thought-out blueprint and a shared commitment to long-term implementation by all the key players within a community. This water-centric vision is founded on whole systems thinking, the primacy of hydrology, and integration of ecosystem services in municipal service delivery. Moving forward, the spotlight will be on GETTING IT RIGHT when it comes to implementing “design with nature” practices that restore the water balance.”

“BLUE ECOLOGY is a concept whose time has come. It emerged from interweaving two ways of knowing – a First Nations spiritual and traditional ecological perspective; and a Western science secular and ecological (water balance) perspective. A Flow and Grow goal is that the audience will be both energized and inspired to make a difference when they leave the room.”


Blue Ecology – A Vision for Interweaving Two Ways of Knowing

“We look forward to an engaging opening session in Module A: Spirit & Science – An Inclusive Journey,” states Eric Bonham, water champion and inspirational speaker. A founding member of the Partnership for Water Sustainability leadership team, he will establish context for the workshop with an opening CALL TO ACTION. “Bob McDonald’s keynote address Water from a Global Perspective & Beyond has already garnered much interest and will set the stage for subsequent presentations from the global to the local.”

4_Eric Bonham_120p“We are pleased to have Chief Aaron Sam from the Lower Nicola Indian Band follow Bob’s presentation as he explores the cultural aspects of water seen through the lens of Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Michael Blackstock will then conclude Module A by integrating what he heard from both and connecting the dots to Blue Ecology.”

“We anticipate considerable interest in the workshop given that the Okanagan Valley is totally dependent upon a secure water supply for industry, agriculture, tourism and settlement. The reality is, however, that climate change will demand new levels of innovation and collaboration to ensure long-term water security, a theme that will be explored further in the other three modules comprising the workshop.”

“An important component of the workshop is the ‘where do we go from here’ town hall session at the end of the program. Bob, Aaron and Michael along with water author and champion Bob Sandford will stimulate discussion and add much to the wrap-up and takeaway messages from the workshop. The objective, to encourage new ways of thinking, collaboration and creative problem solving with regard to the water security challenges of the Okanagan Valley. Lessons can be equally applied to other areas of the province,” concludes Eric Bonham.

To Learn More:

ONLINE REGISTRATION: Visit and go to Upcoming Workshops page


PROGRAM OVERVIEW: Download Flow and Grow


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