CONNECT THE DOTS: International Year of the Salmon – Will Lightning Strike Twice? – CONTINUE READING TO UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT (#5 in a series)

Note to Reader:

In British Columbia, the iconic salmon is the canary in the coal mine. The multi-year program that is the International Year of the Salmon (IYS) could be a ‘carpe diem moment’ (i.e. seize the day) for communities. Why is that so, the reader may well ask? The answer is that IYS has grown into an effort to ensure the resilience of both salmon and people, especially now that the global rhythms of water are in flux due to a changing climate.

For the first time in decades, the stars are in alignment. IYS is an international program to which our federal and provincial governments have committed both money and time. Thus, lightning could strike twice and launch a second era of science-based action. With IYS as a guiding vision, communities could build on what some have known since the 1980s and, in so doing, offset the neglect of past decades. The common denominator between now and then is a ‘salmon crisis’, only this time accentuated by a climate emergency. 

IYS is the opportunity to follow through with an effective response this time, and truly reconnect hydrology and ecology. Success depends on application of science-based understanding (what we know) harnessed to political will (to make it happen). But the driver for reconnecting people to the landscape, and implementing actionable visions, requires bottom-up actions to create and sustain political will. 

A relevant and highly successful precedent for the ‘top-down & bottom-up approach’ is the Urban Salmon Habitat Program (USHP) which mobilized communities in the 1990s. The success of USHP was, in large part, due to the collaboration of the federal, provincial and local governments, working in partnership with the stewardship sector.

Are you curious to learn what it means to stitch together altered landscapes, and thus improve where we live? If your answer is YES, then join us in Courtenay at the Comox Valley 2020 SymposiumThe symposium format provides a neutral forum for local elected representatives, local government staff, stewardship groups and others to ‘convene for action’ to improve where we live.

A ‘once in a generation’ window of opportunity: “The International Year of the Salmon program has the potential to be a game-changer. It is not just about the fish; it is about humankind creating sustainable landscapes for people and salmon,” say Kim Hyatt and Peter Tschaplinski, the federal-provincial science duo who will inform, educate and engage participants at the Comox Valley 2020 Symposium

Will Lightning Strike Twice?

At Comox Valley 2020, the federal-provincial science duo of Dr. Kim Hyatt and Dr. Peter Tschaplinski will inform, educate and engage participants in Module G. They are teaming to provide a balance of strategic and regulatory perspectives on how communities can apply the lessons learned over four decades, reconnect hydrology and ecology, stitch together altered landscapes, and grow the restorative footprint.

Module G, the finale module, is the springboard to Cowichan Valley 2021 – which  will be the fourth in the Vancouver Island Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate Symposia Series. Below, the storyline about Module G is structured in two parts. First, the ‘big picture’ context. Then, an overview of how the duo of Kim Hyatt and Peter Tschaplinski, supported by the tag-team of Nick Leone and Neil Goeller, will provide a memorable experience for the audience. Scroll down to continue reading.

Dr. Kim Hyatt and Dr. Peter Tschaplinski, two senior research scientists, will tag-team to share their federal and provincial perspectives, respectively. They embody a wealth of fisheries-related knowledge. The experience of this engaging duo dates back to the 1970s. Thus, they do know of what they speak!

A key message is that past practices have left a legacy of impacts that still exist on the land base, some of which are getting worse rather than “recovering”.

Stitching together altered landscapes requires connecting people to landscapes, with salmon being a rallying cry for action. The International Year of the Salmon is a way to focus attention on this outcome: Improve Where We Live.



Visit the Symposium homepage on the learn much, much more about the “stories behind the stories”

Improve Where We Live: Convening for Action on Vancouver Island

The focus of Module G is on salmon, people and the landscape. Looking through the ‘salmon lens’ connects to key themes for a restorative development approach to stitching together altered landscapes for the benefit of people and salmon.

Looking through the salmon lens reminds us of the critical requirement for reconnection between federal and provincial government agencies to collaborate in undertaking a challenging mission for which they share authority.

Quotable Quotes:

From an International Year of the Salmon perspective, large efforts of a very large mass of people around the rims of the North Atlantic, North Pacific and likely Arctic oceans will need to ‘come together’ for any real change to occur. From this perspective the requirement in an increasingly interconnected world is closer to ‘humankind’ than to a few of us in the local community. That said, it’s the sum of us in local communities that will move this closer to a humankind undertaking,” states Kim Hyatt.

“Significant initiatives and projects directly relevant to sustaining and enhancing wild salmon and their freshwater habitats are under way such as the federal-provincial BC Salmon Innovation and Restoration Fund. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy together with other provincial natural resource ministries are key players,” adds Peter Tschaplinski.

Building on What We Know

Context for the finale Module G on Day Two at Comox Valley 2020 is provided as follows:

Did you (the reader) know that the ‘salmon crisis’ of the 1990s galvanized federal-provincial action, cross-border collaboration, and pioneer research under the umbrella of the Georgia Basin Action Plan, which was an evolution of the earlier Georgia Basin Ecosystem Initiative?

Do you believe that history does repeat itself, and that there are ‘once in a generation’ windows of opportunity to seize the moment, and have a lasting impact for the better?

Before you read Announcement #5 for Comox Valley 2020, were you aware that the multi-year program for the International Year of the Salmon, launched in 2018, represents a ‘once in a generation’ moment?

Does it surprise you and give you hope that the International Year of the Salmon shows renewed interest and commitment, and timely re-engagement, by senior governments?

Will lightning strike twice and inspire a new generation of researchers, managers, community leaders and conservationists to take the baton and collaborate – within the three levels of government, and between governments and the stewardship sector – along the lines of the former Urban Salmon Habitat Program?

“The International Year of the Salmon program has the potential to be a game-changer. It is not just about the fish; it is about humankind creating sustainable landscapes for people and salmon,” say Kim Hyatt and Peter Tschaplinski.

These are the four theme areas for educating participants at Comox Valley 2020 in order to inform the conversation about stitching together altered landscapes.

Structure for Educational & Audience Interaction Segments

The goal of Module Team G is to provide symposium participants with an informative and memorable experience. An engaging format will allow the audience to interact with team members at strategic moments in the 90-minute session.

“We will keep the initial part of the module simple, graphic, and with pretty clear messages. We will then invite a dialogue with the audience to get a measure of where the people who are participating are at with their understanding,” explains Dr. Kim Hyatt.

“Participant questions would serve as feedback on the information we present, and allow us to have a meaningful discussion. This contrasts with a talking heads approach.”

Tell Us What You Wonder

The effectiveness of audience engagement requires that the audience first be primed so that interaction will be informed. The mind-map image above provides both context and structure for Module G.

Each theme area is an ‘inform & educate’ presentation segment. And each is a building block in a systematic process to facilitate audience understanding.

Spotlight on Integration

Kim Hyatt and Peter Tschaplinski will have a fully integrated tag-team presentation. They will draw on their relative expertise and strengths to provide a synthesis of key information that would help guide decision-making. They will connect dots – within individual theme areas, and between the four themes represented by the mind-map above.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan delivered remarks at the IYS launch event in October 2018. Over 5 years, the Governments of Canada and BC are investing $100M and $42.85M, respectively, in the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund.


Designed to paint a picture of the 2-day symposium, the series delves into the details of the cascading program. The goal is to inform, educate and establish delegate expectations. To learn more, click on the links to the four previous articles in the series: