“This year, we are trying something new,” said Oliver M. Brandes, POLIS Water Sustainability Project Lead. “Instead of one large, in-person gathering like we’ve done in the past, we are hosting a series of focused in-person and virtual events, all under the banner of Watersheds 2018.”
So far, this series of events has featured a film screening and panel discussion on the Columbia River Treaty, a special session on sustainably science with Dr. Jon O’Riordan and Dr. Tim O’Riordan, a session on water, peace, and global security with Robert Sandford, and two topical webinars—one on watershed governance in B.C.’s Fraser River watershed and the other on collaborative consent and revitalizing indigenous laws. As well, a special full-day symposium on the Columbia River Treaty is coming up on May 28th in partnership with the Canadian Water Resources Association and the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies.
“These Watersheds 2018 events collectively contribute to the overall goals of engaging with innovative ideas and bold thinking, building connections and networks in our freshwater community, and finding sustainable solutions to pressing water problems,” said Brandes. “The half-day virtual forum on June 5th will be the centrepiece in this series of events, bringing water leaders together to exchange information and learn about innovative watershed governance efforts across the province.”
Focusing on the theme of “Planning for Success: New Thinking for Land Use and Water Governance,” Watersheds 2018 will emphasize water-centric land use planning, Indigenous-led approaches, and opportunities for collaboration. A resource package and workbook will be provided to participants to summarize recent learnings and offer support to increase knowledge and skills.
This virtual forum is organized into two main sessions:
The first session, Indigenous water law & the emerging priority of water-centric planning, will explore the connections between Indigenous water laws and water-centric planning. Val Napoleon (Director, Indigenous Law Research Unit, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria) and Deborah Curran (Associate Professor, Faculty of Law and School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria) will explore how Indigenous water laws are being revitalized and how they might be applied in conjunction with colonial laws to advance watershed sustainability. Tara Marsden (Wilp Sustainability Director, Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs) will then describe innovative water initiatives and water-centric planning that Gitanyow Nation is leading to protect and steward lands and waters.
The second session, Watershed governance roundup: lessons and updates from on the ground, will pick up on discussions from previous Watersheds forums and offer insights and discussion from three prominent and innovative watershed governance efforts: the Cowichan Watershed Board, the Nadleh Whut’en Water Management Regime, and the Nicola Watershed Pilot Project (to be confirmed). Each of these initiatives is approaching the issues of watershed sustainability, reconcilation, and shared authority through its own unique pathway.
Representatives from the POLIS Water Sustainability Project and the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources will offer concluding remarks and link to themes from past Watersheds gatherings, as well as current and future opportunities in B.C. and beyond.
The virtual Watersheds 2018 event is free and open to all who want to get engaged, be inspired, and make a difference in their watersheds! Registration is required, as space is limited.