An open-source database now makes critical water data readily available for water stewardship groups and decision-makers in the Upper (Canadian side) Columbia Basin!Read more
Over 50 freshwater champions registered for our November 19, 2020 virtual gathering to discuss the topic of Funding Water Projects Across Canada. We had a great turnout!
We gathered to find the answer to a thought-provoking question: Is there a desire from the freshwater community to collectively call on the federal government to better fund water projects right across the country? We were asking this question because of the confluence of multiple factors:
- Organizations across the country have water-related projects ready to implement, but lack the resources to do so. As we summarized in a letter to the Prime Minister in May, the Our Living Waters Network compiled a list of over 300 such projects in only three weeks. Imagine the number of projects that exist but are not on the list? Imagine the positive impact on our waters if each of these projects were implemented!
- There is a gap in available federal funding programs that support community-level projects across the country to improve the health of our waters;
- The inclusion of a Canada Water Agency in the latest Speech from the Throne further indicates that the federal government is considering how to better support freshwater health;
- There are good regional examples of organizations asking governments (provincial and federal) for support that can be a source of inspiration for other regions.
We started the virtual gathering with three presentations:
- A case study on the success of the BC Watershed Security Coalition in advocating for an investment in watershed security as a part of BC’s economic recovery plan (slides here)
- The water management context in Quebec (no slides, please see recording)
- Results from research on existing water funding opportunities in Canada from the federal government (slides here).
The recording of the virtual gathering can be found here, but as technology goes... well sometimes it doesn’t go fully. To note, the last presentation was cut off for reasons we will blame on 2020 in general (that is to say, we don’t actually know why it was cut off).
After these informative presentations, we broke into five smaller groups to discuss two questions:
1) Considering the presentation and case studies we’ve seen, what opportunities exist for a coordinated federal ask?
2) Do you feel there is value in making a coordinated federal ask for funding of water projects right across the country?
As a teaser, we certainly heard a lot of support for collectively calling on the federal government to better fund water projects right across the country. Our next steps are to fully digest the detailed notes we took from those breakout dialogues and then to report back to the freshwater community on our next steps given what we heard.
A big thank you to everyone who supported the creation of our virtual gathering and to all of you: the incredible community of freshwater champions!
What does it take to trigger implementation of recommendations posed to the Federal government? For the past nine months the Federal Water Strategy Team has been meeting to explore exactly that. In late 2018, the National Roundtable on Community Based Water Monitoring released a collaborative report with detailed recommendations on how the federal government could advance community based water monitoring (CBWM) efforts across the country. But has there been any action on these recommendations? We all know how frequently collaborative recommendations are published without being translated into action.
Since January 2020, 10 water leaders (NGO’s, funders, tech, academic, watershed groups) from across the country have come together, motivated by their shared goal: to spur federal action on the 2018 CBWM recommendations. Their continued commitment and regional expertise combined with third-party coordination support from OLW has created a fertile container for collaboration.
The group began by prioritizing the roundtable’s 64 sub-recommendations landing on 4 as collective priorities across the country. These 4 priorities were framed in a letter to Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada Jonathan Wilkinson which put into context why these priorities are important in today's ever changing climate.
In follow up to this letter, the Strategy Team is leaning on their government relations skills and engaging government contacts and MPs to validate CBWM as a credible and invaluable source of badly needed water data. As our momentum grows, so does the size and coverage of our Strategy Team. The group of 10 has grown to 20 representing CBWM programs in 5 provinces and with 5 National groups.
Coordinating ‘strategy teams’ is a service OLW offers to Network members working collaboratively to turn the curve on any of our collective impact measures. We provide coordination, and in some cases funding, to help maintain momentum and overcome capacity restraints that usually arise when this type of collaborative work is performed “off the sides of leaders’ desks”.
Collaboration is valuable work, we want to recognize that. And it leads to results!
Investing in 'shovel-ready' and 'shovel-worthy' jobs that advance climate resiliency and water security can create an immediate 3638 jobs and nearly 1.5 million job hours in over 300 projects across the country. By prioritizing investment in small, rural and Indigenous communities we can put people to work across numerous impacted communities from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
Read our letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and to members of the Green Recovery Taskforce, including summary of our research and the over 300 projects we identified.
42 groups came together to encourage Prime Minister Trudeau and key federal ministers to invest in natural infrastructure as a part of Canada’s COVID-19 recovery plan. In an open letter submitted on Thursday May 21st, the groups provide detailed recommendations for investment in natural infrastructure as an integral part of Canada’s economic recovery from the COVID crisis and its long-term resilience against the impending climate emergency.
The letter focuses on three key recommendations:
- Get money moving by expediting funding to projects that are “shovel-ready” and “shovel-worthy,”;
- Keep money moving by modifying existing programs to address current barriers for natural infrastructure projects; and
- Sustains support over the long term by enabling integrated policy, programs and legislation, including the establishment of a dedicated natural infrastructure fund.
Faces of the OLW Network: Lina Azeez, Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Behind each member of the OLW Network, their projects, and their efforts to help turn the curve on our collective OLW impact measures, are people. The OLW Network relies on our connections and collaborations with each other, so we want to highlight the most important aspect of the Network: you, its members.
Each month, we’re highlighting someone in the OLW Network through a Q&A interview format, taking a peek into their work lives and all the quirks that come along for the ride as we adjust to working from home. The interviews are conducted by Andrew Stegemann, Director of the OLW Network, and are edited for length and clarity.
This month’s face of the OLW Network: Lina Azeez
Lina is the Connected Waters Campaign Manager with Watershed Watch Salmon Society. She lives on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples in Vancouver, BC, and due to this pesky COVID thing, now finds herself sharing her work world with her partner, Shehzad, and her cat. More on the cat in our exchange...
Andrew: Do you have any animals in the house?
Lina: Yeeeeaaaaaahhh (extended, almost celebratory ‘yeaaah’)…. We’ve got a cat, her name is Purrrsimon Pringlesworth...
A: (laughs) That’s amazing. Pursimon Pringlesworth!?
L: Yeah, P-U-R-R-R-S-I-M-O-N
A: Is that three R’s!?
L: Yeah, it’s very funny at the vet.
A: Please tell me it’s a giant, furry, humongous … (Lina is shaking her head)
L: (Laughing) No, she’s a kitten. She’s about six months now, a little tuxedo cat. We call her Purrrsy for short. She loves to sleep on my lap when I’m working which is really nice. She spends a good amount of her morning overseeing the activities of the day out the balcony - we put her on a leash - she watches the birds and the bees, having a great time.
A: (Laughs). I love it. Okay, onto the questions… What is something positive happening in your work world during these unique times?
L: It’s really nice to see people come together and be really forgiving of each other and understanding of why some things may be delayed or not up to a certain quality we may otherwise expect. I’ve enjoyed seeing people rally to keep things going so that our projects are still relevant. We were having this conversation internally, asking, is it the time to talk about salmon when there’s a pandemic going on? We realized it is the right time, because people want to be outdoors in nature, and we want to be sure we have a nature to be out in. So, that work never stops - we need to keep making sure our watersheds continue to be protected and our salmon habitat is healthy. We not only want to be outdoors, we also want to ensure our food security, and our nature security.
A: I have heard many talk about these notions of ‘security’: food security, nature security, water security and how important they are showing themselves to be.
L: Yes, but not in a way where we have to highly manage it and take it out of its natural context, which is what we tend to do. Like, “oh no, we can’t grow food naturally so let's put it into a lab or create fish farms” and that’s the answer to our crisis. It’s about managing it naturally, so it’s not just about human needs and consumption, but also for the larger ecological functioning. For example, the work I focus on is around flood control. We need to protect communities against floods so we put up dykes and walls and channelize rivers and we try so hard to have complete control but to the detriment of everything else. Consider waterways in the Lower Mainland [area around Vancouver] that are impacted by flood structures like pump stations, which move water from the land side to the Fraser River - those pump stations will also pull fish and amphibians and they get ground up in the pumps and spit out. We’re calling for pump stations that are fish friendly so we’re improving the ability for fish to live while also providing flood infrastructure.
A: What is a quirk of your home/work life right now?
L: I’m hearing a lot more live music from people’s homes. People playing the ukulele, and just across the way, somebody is really good on the piano. I get two hours of that. And my partner - bless his soul - is taking time during the day to play his harmonica (laughs). From Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen) to Happy Birthday… and I provide some vocals.
Also, the 7pm appreciation [people making noise in support of the front line workers] is wonderful. Sometimes after work we go biking, and hearing people cheer is very emotional. You can hear the echoes downtown with everyone cheering and playing trumpets, airhorns, fireworks and the boats honking as well. It feels like we’re all together. It’s really nice.
A: Last question, on the larger theme of what comes next, given this crisis, what’s your hope?
L: Oh wow, so many hopes. I have many thoughts in their infancy. I want to see us look at people differently, respecting the front line workers. Like the whole idea about universal basic income for example, I’ve always loved it and want to see it realized. For example, just yesterday I read the Arundathi Roy article, “The Pandemic is a Portal”. She’s an amazing writer, thinker and environmental activist from India and her article offered hope that the pandemic would be the door through which the world would emerge more just, supportive and changed for the better. In the economic context, I’ve been thinking about what changing the way we think about ‘business as usual’ would look like. I know it must happen. It’s been said many times already but I truly believe we cannot go back to the way things were. It’s been great to see the way companies are pivoting to address this issue - they were making one specialized thing, and now many are making PPE equipment for example. It’s not a new ask from the climate change and environmental movement to say we need to change the way we do business, but apathy, poor leadership and greed say it’s impossible. But, seeing that it is possible and that we can do it gives me hope. Also, all the before and after photos [like the state of rivers or cities and pollution]. People are remembering what it used to be like. They are remembering, but I don’t know if that’s enough, because people still need to feed the kids and house themselves, and oftentimes many governments aren’t able to provide that for their people.
From the perspective of my work, we are seeing this opportunity to talk about changing basic things we take for granted. So we can make bold asks that create systemic change like spending stimulus money on habitat restoration, governance and policy, and fish friendly flood infrastructure.
Previously featured on "Faces of the OLW Network"
We are so thrilled to share our report of annual activities for the Our Living Waters Network!
Take a flip through below or download a pdf version.
Faces of the OLW Network: Liz Hendriks, WWF Canada
Behind each member of the OLW Network, their projects, and their efforts to help turn the curve on our collective OLW impact measures are people. With all this (gestures broadly) happening around us due to COVID-19, these are truly times for family, friends and for embracing our social connections while we physically distance. The OLW Network relies on our social connections and collaborations with each other, so we want to highlight the most important aspect of the Network: you, its members.
Each month, we’re highlighting someone in the OLW Network through a Q&A interview format, taking a peek into their work lives and all the quirks that come along for the ride as we adjust to working from home, many of us with kids and pets dashing about in the background!
The interviews are conducted by Andrew Stegemann, Director of the OLW Network, and are edited for length and clarity.
This month’s face of the OLW Network: Liz Hendriks
Elizabeth Hendriks is the Vice President of Freshwater Conservation with WWF Canada. She lives in Toronto, and now finds herself sharing her work world with her family, including her partner, Pat, and her two kids, Chloe and Jack, and Bluey the fish that swim lazily behind her during video calls with her colleagues.
Andrew: What is something positive happening in your work world during these unique times?
Liz: I love that folks at WWF are being so creative and thinking about how this current situation will change how we achieve our goals. Nobody has said we can’t achieve our goals. They talk about how we will look differently at our goals and think of different ways of achieving our conservation goals. Even in uncertain times, there is a curiosity in WWF’s conservation team to drive at impact and that brings me so much hope and joy.
A: It seems like people are trying to be innovative. Is there an example of an aha moment from that?
L: We’re still very much in the brainstorming phase of this work to be honest. While we haven’t found the perfect solutions yet, there’s this willingness to rumble with change. It’s like the saying, you have to have some storming before the norming. We know a large part of our work is about the human connection. Recognizing that, we’re grappling with changing how we do what we do.
A: It reminds me that the change we need now - going through this - doesn’t mean that this is the change of forever. This will pass. Nobody knows how long, but this will pass. Moving on to the next question, what is a quirk of your home/work life right now?
L: The quirks in our home involve trying to have structure while I’m working from home. For example, yesterday we had the first online video piano lesson for my daughter, but I couldn’t figure out how to lift up the phone so the instructor could see the keys. Probably because I was trying to type one-handed on my laptop since I wasn’t part of the lesson... We’re all adapting!
We also have “Momma Time” and it’s important that the kids can see our daily schedule at eye level. But it’s all changing a lot. I’m trying to make Momma Time magical time… but sometimes you just have to sit on your kids because they’re not listening. I have a picture of me literally sitting on my child because she threw the airplane that one last time. I said, “Stop throwing the airplane”, and she didn’t. So I sat on her. Someone said, “Oh, that’s amazing!”, and I said, yeah it’s called good parenting… and not great parenting (laughs).
A: Tell me about this dedicated Momma Time.
L: The kids and I (try to) make a commitment that there are no screens, we keep our patience, and that we are present in the activity we choose collectively to do. We have chosen these rules to engage in Momma Time so it feels like something more than the normal. Right now, we’re attempting 9am - 11am. We also have a Question of the Day. My son is five, so he gets a Question of the Day at school. Right now, it’s, “Who is scarier, zombie, alien or monster?”
A: On the larger theme of what comes next, given this crisis, what’s your hope?
L: This is a great question because before these changes, a lot of my job and discussions were talking about how we can control and manipulate the external world for the goals we want. This time is teaching me how little control we have and how important being in the moment is. Frozen 2 is very popular in my household and one of the main songs is about what’s the next right thing you can do. I think how much of this time - even though it’s only been a few weeks - has already taught me to be in this moment and how little is in our control. When I think about what’s next - I know we have an opportunity to restructure how our communities and society are structured. By doing the next right thing, I hope we build something better through this challenging time, that we can build a different future by living into today.