Tessa Terbasket (right) and Emma Cohen

Water Forum addresses water management in the Okanagan

Wednesday's forum featured Dr. David Suzuki as keynote speaker.

One of Canada’s most well known scientists was in Kelowna Wednesday for the Okanagan Water Forum.

Dr. David Suzuki was the keynote speaker at the forum, where he spoke about the need for Canada’s indigenous population to be at the forefront of the climate change discussions.

“I was very inspired by what he had to say,” reflected Okanagan Nation Alliance Fisheries harvest coordinator Tessa Terbasket, who also spoke at the forum.  “He really talked about the importance of including indigenous people in the discussions.  It’s our traditional knowledge and our stories that are in themselves totally sustainable, and we can’t start talking about reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous people until we as humans start mitigating their impact on the environment.  Because when you’re over allocating water and not looking after nature and the land, you’re also hurting indigenous people because there’s no disconnect.”

Terbasket saw the forum as critical as she noted it’s time for change in the way we handle water, particularly in the Okanagan.  The valley, like much of British Columbia, just experienced its most severe drought in decades.  To prepare ourselves and sustain the environment for the future, Terbasket believes we need to come together and have dialogue to find solutions for the management of water, just like at the forum.

Awareness about water management must increase in order to facilitate those discussions, and Terbasket said youth are a great way to raise that awareness.  That encompassed part of what she spoke about, as she addressed youth perspectives on water and showcased the youth water leaders of today.

“You can see this from social media,” Terbasket explained.  “Youth in todays world are so worldly, we’re so connected with each other.  Something could be happening here that someone across the world will instantly see.  I see that this generation is awakening, we’re becoming more empowered and you become empowered through knowledge.”

She added youth are starting to become impatient with their leadership and politics that change isn’t happening fast enough for our water, lands and environment, and it’s something that needs to happen to preserve the Okanagan’s ecosystem for the future.