Water conference brings native, non-natives together

Kelowna Daily Courier – October 22, 2018

About 250 people attended a two-day water conference last week in Kelowna, hosted by the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

The main topic was environmental flow needs — essentially, determining how much water is needed for fish and the environment to understand how much water communities can use.

But relations and sharing water management with First Nations actually dominated the discussions.

“This week’s conference was intended to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together to understand each others’ perspectives and build collective vision,” said Nelson Jatel, the water board’s water stewardship director, in a news release.

“I’ve attended and MCed so many conferences,” added Aaron Derickson, a local First Nation leader and one of three event facilitators. “I was expecting just another conference, to be honest, but what we got was such an incredible synergy of hope. For me, reconciliation is about healing the gap in understanding. Through this process, I witnessed people listening to each other.”

Guest speaker Claudia Pahl-Wostl of the University of Osnabrück said it was the first conference of its kind she has attended that integrated traditional Indigenous knowledge so prominently and effectively.

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