On October 16th and 17th, the fourth annual British Columbia Water Leaders-Funders workshop was held in Merritt, B.C. The workshop built on strategic collaborations to advance freshwater protection in the province and was organized by the POLIS Water Sustainability Project in partnership with the B.C. Water Funders Collaborative and the First Nations Fisheries Council.
On the first day, participants were hosted by the Nicola Chiefs and Nicola Watershed Governance Project for a field trip and classroom session to learn about their innovative watershed governance partnership. Over 70 people from across sectors—including First Nations, water leaders and funders, Cowichan Watershed Board representatives, and government staff—participated in the field trip to learn first-hand about Nicola watershed issues and the development of the government-to-government watershed partnership.
The second day focused on smaller-scale workshops for the B.C. Water Leaders and Funders. Outcomes of the two-day event included identification of strategic opportunities and priorities going forward, and an update of the 2018 Statement of Essential Elements for Freshwater Protection.
This event successfully demonstrated the world-class watershed co-governance models that are emerging in B.C. and offered concrete insights into what reconciliation between Crown and Indigenous governments involves in the context of advancing freshwater sustainability.
A special thank you to elder June Shackelly of the Coldwater band, Chief Lee Spahan, Councilor Aaron Sumexheltza, Chief Stuart Jackson, Chief Jordan Joe, Councilor Brian Holmes, Eva Tom (Indigenous Laws Research Liaison), and G2G staff Nadia Joe and Patrick Farmer for making the event possible, engaging, and very informative.