Estuaries are amongst Canada’s rarest and most productive habitats. The dynamic nature of estuaries makes them a hotspot for biodiversity and they are also a migratory stopover habitat both for species moving from the ocean into rivers and for bird species traveling north/south along the coast. Yet the very dynamism that results in such natural productivity has produced a jurisdictional quagmire resulting in very limited protection for these vital elements of Canada’s rivers.
Our Living Waters is pleased to partner with Bird Studies Canada and Nature Canada to bring you three leaders working on estuary conservation in BC, Dr. Jonathan Moore, Dr. Tara Martin and lawyer Deborah Carlson.
In this webinar, these three leaders will share their thoughts on why estuaries are so important, explore some of the many threats facing the Fraser estuary and seed ideas on potential measures that can be taken to conserve these ecosystems.Read more
Another region in Canada is launching a public and open-access hub for water data. Joining the Mackenzie region, Atlantic DataStream will be your one-stop shop for data on water quality in Atlantic Canada. With over 20 groups, including NGOs, federal, and municipal governments, and First Nations feeding into the hub, it will become the most comprehensive and accessible data-set on freshwater in the region, covering all 4 provinces with dozens of parameters and all centralized in one easy access online hub.
The project came to fruition a few years ago after the Community-Based Environmental Monitoring Network (CBEMN), out of Saint Mary’s University, partnered with WWF-Canada to host a water forum in the region. Carolyn Dubois of The Gordon Foundation presented on the MacKenzie DataStream project they had just launched, and the pieces of the puzzle all fell into place from there. The CBEMN had been compiling community-based monitoring data from across the region for years, and the DataStream platform gave them the opportunity to channel that data using online, accessible and new visualization tools.
Anyone who monitors water quality in the region can feed their data into the hub. The database will also provide space for groups to describe the methodology and approach used to collect the data, and allow for comparability across the region. Entire field seasons can be uploaded at once making it an easy step for organizations working on the ground to collect data. This week’s launch of Atlantic DataStream also marks the launch of the new Atlantic Water Network, consolidating the water programs of CBEMN and networking water monitoring groups throughout the region.
Stay tuned as the first field season for Atlantic DataStream comes to an end and the official launch of Atlantic DataStream takes place this Fall. Following this first season, look for the workshops for groups on inputting data, and data management and digitizing your groups water data. Information from Atlantic DataStream will also feed into updates to WWF-Canada’s watershed health reports, which are regularly updated via their interactive online tool.
Thanks to our members for completing our 2018 Our Living Waters Priorities survey. 77% responded, giving us confidence that these priorities are truly reflective of OLW Network members.
Here’s a summary of what you told us.Read more
On June 13th we hosted WWF-Canada as they launched the first comprehensive report on the health of Canada's freshwater ecosystems. 5-years in the making, this assessment reviews Canada's 25 major watersheds and 167 sub-watersheds for detailed data that together paints an important picture on the health of waters.
This whole conversation on the current dominant narrative around freshwater health in Canada points to both challenges and opportunities that as non-profit freshwater champions we need to embrace, to both alter the dominant narrative (that freshwater values exist in our subconscious, that acting to protect water results in negative economic decisions and that we don’t have any control or impact in decisions that affect freshwater health) and to promote a new narrative (one where guardianship is central, where we listen to, celebrate and honour the role water plays to our lives, and where we engage as active citizens around decision to protect, enhance and defend its health).
In this new water narrative, water literacy is key - not only do we celebrate our memories of water but we know about our local waters. This is exemplified by knowing that the water from our taps comes from local water sources. Currently only 43% of Canadians will attempt to identify their drinking water source. 57% don’t know or won’t even hazard a guess as to where their water comes from. We will know that we are altering the dominant water narrative when this statistic changes. Furthermore, when communities can clearly identify the local threats to healthy waters and feel that it is within their power to influence decisions around water, we will know that we are succeeding at changing the dominant water narrative of today.
Finally, we will know that the dominant water narrative is changing when the rich history, cultural connection and knowledge that indigenous communities hold over the waters of Canada is given its appropriate place. Our region’s founding stories relate to and are inextricably tied to water. A sharing of these founding stories can improve how we perceive waters but can also deepen understanding of indigenous rights, treaties and indigenous governance.
This blog series is inspired by a ½ day exploratory conversation convened through the Our Living Waters Network. At the meeting, a small group of network members and supporters explored the dominant freshwater narratives that we’ve encountered in our work for freshwater health across Canada. Participants of the workshop included: Canadian Freshwater Alliance, Great Lakes Commons, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, and Tides Canada. The opinions throughout the series represent those of the author and not necessarily any of the workshop participants.