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michael blackstock

    PATH FORWARD FOR GROUNDWATER IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The fact that BC has such small aquifers suggests that they likely get more local than provincial attention,” states Mike Wei, former Deputy Comptroller of Water Rights


    “Given all that I have seen in BC over my 40-year career – recession in the 1980s, political instability in the 1990s, current crises in housing and food affordability, drug overdoses, health care system for an aging population, gang violence, etc., it will be difficult for water to receive sufficient and sustained attention from the BC government alone. Canada’s investment and collaboration, done in a spirit of enabling provincial and territorial capacity to manage water would allow us to keep moving forward,” stated Mike Wei in his testimony to a House of Commons Committee.

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    HOPE AND OPTIMISM DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: “I had to learn the art of looking for hope and opportunities and silver linings in the issues of our time,” stated Zoe Norcross-Nu’u, Comox Lake Watershed Protection Coordinator


    “What I learned from my students when I was a college instructor which has served me well in my career is the realization that people need to have hope, they need to have optimism, and they especially need to believe that they can make a difference. In the early 2000s, topics like climate change and sea level rise were only just emerging as really important issues. If an instructor only presents doom-and-gloom scenarios, your students get pretty discouraged and upset,” stated Zoe Norcross Nu’u.

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    COLLABORATION – STEPPINGSTONE TO A CULTURE OF APPRECIATION: “With the advantage of hindsight and time, we now have an appreciation of the extent to which conflict defined Coquitlam’s green infrastructure journey,” stated Pete Steblin, former City Engineer and City Manager


    “Instill a culture of continuous improvement and giving back to the community so that the community elects good, well-meaning people. It is a cycle. The community elects good people to council. And councillors rely on staff to come up with ideas. The council supports those ideas and is willing to fund them. Staff carries them out. The community notices those ideas being implemented, and they are happy. It is a cycle! The community becomes even more appreciative. If you keep that cycle going, there is no end to it. The cycle actually does work,” stated Pete Steblin.

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    WATER PROTESTS HUMAN BETRAYAL: “Floods and droughts. That is how water protests human betrayal. We need a mindset change in order to affect an attitude change about water,” stated Dr. Serpil Oppermann, co-editor of The Bloomsbury Handbook to the Blue Humanities


    “Many of the metaphors that we find in the 19th century literary and historical texts unfortunately harbour mastering visions. They saw oceans and waterways being there to serve human purposes. But the idea behind that mindset is that water and aquatic entities are inert, incapable of expressing themselves. They are seen as commodities. They are not seen as lively, agentic beings who can feel. We affect water, and we are affected by water. It is a two-fold process. When waterways are colonized by socio-political systems as commodities, they protest,” stated Serpil Oppermann.

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    KEEP IT SIMPLE, PRACTICAL AND IMPLEMENTABLE: “If the process is strategic and well thought out, as well as practical and implementable from the start, then it is just a matter of sticking to it until you deliver it across the line,” stated Melony Burton, Manager of Infrastructure Planning with the City of Port Coquitlam in the Metro Vancouver region


    “In my work, I continue to apply the ten principles that I developed at Coquitlam when we delivered nine Integrated Watershed Management Plans in just 10 years. Three of the 10 are universally applicable to any area of infrastructure planning: take action, start small, stay practical. Staying true to these has helped me deliver so much. Develop a really good strategy coming out of the gate and stay super focused. Do not go down rabbit holes. You can always circle back later,” stated Melony Burton

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    CARING FOR THE LAND MEANS GOING BEYOND JUST DOING ENOUGH: “Blue Ecology and EAP describe a whole-system approach to caring for our Natural Commons and ecological assets,” states Tim Pringle, a founding director and Past-President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability


    “EAP is an expression of Blue Ecology. Because nature is a system, you cannot slice and dice it. EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, recognizes this and is a financial tool to give streams the support they need to survive in the local government setting. Streams need a place to be. If we cannot get our heads around that, we are not going to keep our streams. EAP provides a value picture of a stream system as a land use. Think of Blue Ecology as a compass in terms of how it relates to a water-first approach. The compass points the way forward. We are on a journey,” stated Tim Pringle.

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    A PATHWAY TO WATER RECONCILIATION: Blue Ecology offers HOPE and removes the FEAR


    Michael Blackstock believes that a message of hope is paramount in these times of droughts, forest fires and floods. “Rather than looking through a cumulative effects lens, I also see the concept of ‘cumulative healing’ landing as a way to give back to water and land. Rather than wondering how much more can we take or impact land before we need to stop, instead we should ask how much longer should we let the water and land heal, before we ask for more,” states Michael Blackstock.

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    Build bridges of understanding, pass the baton!


    “A Partnership strength is the real-world experience we bring because of our multiple initiatives under Living Water Smart Actions. Under that vision, various building blocks processes have evolved over the decades. The Watershed Security Strategy and Fund, an initiative of the current provincial government, is the obvious mechanism to revisit, understand, learn from, and leverage past successes in the building blocks continuum. We have tools to help do the job. We can achieve better stewardship of BC’s water resources for present and future generations,” stated Ted van der Gulik.

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    What does “water reconciliation” look like?


    “We have landed at the crux of two of the most important issues facing Canadians – relationships with First Nations and relationships with water – in an era when we must also adapt to a changing climate. Communities have a once in a generation opportunity to get our relationships with both right, and then start back down the river of time – this time together. To move this bold idea forward, the Watershed Moments Team is showcasing the Blue Ecology vision for interweaving Western science and Indigenous knowledge,” stated Richard Boase.

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    BLUE ECOLOGY: A Pathway to Water Reconciliation and Resilience at the Local Scale in British Columbia


    “When I think about the experience in the Cowichan, in many ways the region is still in the theoretical stage in terms of weaving Indigenous knowledge and Western science,” stated Brian Carruthers. “We created the framework for that to happen, but I cannot say that it truly has happened. The foundation for interweaving in the Cowichan region is really with the Cowichan Tribes. Everything the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) has done has been shoulder to shoulder with them. The framework is in place and the Drinking Water and Watershed Protection service exists. But I do wish the Cowichan region was further along. However, a reality is that things do take time.”

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