Hello! Bonjour! My name is Julie Wright and I’m delighted to have joined the team at Our Living Waters as the new National Director. Every transition is accompanied by a big learning curve and I’m grateful to the team at OLW and former National Director Andrew Stegemann for their generosity and guidance. OLW’s heart-led approach shines through in the way they’ve introduced me to the Network and the body of work they’ve engaged in to support it. We’re a few weeks into it now, and finding our rhythm and chemistry in a way that can sustain OLW for years to come.
A little bit about me: I’m porting my experience catalyzing collective action toward decarbonization and the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into the work that OLW is doing to support the goal of “all waters in Canada in good health by 2030”. Previously, I was the Director of Partners for Action at the University of Waterloo where I focused on flood risk research and empowering Canadians to be flood risk aware and prepared.
I live and work on the Haldimand Tract which is in the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe and Chonnonton peoples. Though I’ve lived in many places in my adult life, I grew up on the Grand River and returned to this region with my husband to raise our two boys. I’m also a city councillor with the City of Waterloo, Ontario and am deeply inspired by what communities can achieve when they unite with a common cause.
Across the land, the cold is seeping in, the days are shorter and it feels like a time to slow down, pause and reflect. This year, I began a season of reflection a bit early as I transitioned out of my former role and took the summer to rest and recharge. Some of this time was spent reading, hiking and gardening, and, like so many others, I was drawn to the water and spent time in the Kananaskis and Grand Rivers. Each year, I note the changes: What’s the shoreline like? Have the big boulders moved? What birds and bugs am I seeing? Is the water low? How much garbage am I seeing?
I’ve emerged from this phase with renewed energy and am excited about the opportunities ahead. Though there’s much urgency, there’s also good news. A new Canada Water Agency is emerging at the federal level and $650M was committed to support a Freshwater Action Plan over the next decade. We were also encouraged by the announcement this month of a tripartite agreement between the federal government, Province of British Columbia and First Nations, and corresponding $1B commitment to the 30x30 conservation goals that aim to protect 30% of Canada’s land and water by 2030.
We remain committed to sharing your stories and amplifying the Network’s impact and progress toward healthy waters. We are in a listening phase, reaching out to our Network members to learn more about what you need as we head into 2024. I look forward to getting to know you in the weeks to come and being on this journey with you. You can reach me at [email protected].