Flood of free events for water week

Canada Water Week will be marked in Kelowna with lots of different events for all ages next week, from panel discussions to contests.

Even youngsters can participate in Canada Water Week with a contest that concludes in Drinking Water Week in May.

By Judie Steeves

staff reporter

A flood of public activities are planned for Canada Water Week in Kelowna next week.

Water for food is the theme of this year’s United Nations World Water Day next Tuesday, and the opening ceremonies for a week full of activities at UBC-O will be held in the courtyard at noon.

Displays by students in the Arts Building foyer will be on view from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

A free public forum on the topic will be held at Summerhill Pyramid Winery at 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, with a focus on permaculture, a sustainable farming method that’s growing in popularity, says Nelson Jatel, the water stewardship director for the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

“We all know how important water is to quality of life, but we don’t often sit down and discuss it,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for business leaders, educators, youth and other members of our community to come together and discuss the importance of water—and water for food,” he said.

It will begin with a panel discussion including special guest Yehalem Metiku with the locally-based, non-profit Partners in the Horn of Africa. He will bring an international perspective to the issue of water and food security, based on his experiences working in Ethiopia.

Ted van der Gulik with the province’s agriculture ministry, who is also vice-chair of the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council, will provide a local perspective; John Wagner, anthropology profressor at UBCO, who has done considerable research on the valley’s water issues will present his view; and two speakers on permaculture, Javan Bernakevitch of Permaculture B.C. and Michael Nickels from Saltspring Island will talk about permaculture.

OBWB executive-director Anna Warwick Sears will tie all the pieces together and contribute the OBWB perspective.

Seating is limited, so register at: http://okanaganwaterandfoodsecuritydiscussion.eventbrite.ca/

The OBWB is also launching a contest geared to Okanagan classrooms, inviting young people from kindergarten to grade 12 to submit a multi-media entry into the Okanagan WaterWise Challenge. Entrants will compete for a pizza party in the classroom and pool passes while the  the winning entry will be featured on the Okanagan WaterWise website. Go to www.okwaterwise.ca for more details.

Enter by May 4, and winners will be announced May 16, as part of B.C. Drinking Water Week.

Wednesday Metiku will be the guest speaker on sustainable agriculture and grassroots development in Ethiopia, beginning at 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the ART 376 room at UBCO.

Nancy Holmes’ students will present a poetry slam from 2:30 to 4:30, and Metiku will speak again in the evening in the Mary Irwin Theatre at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Register for that at: www.ubc.ca/okanagan/sustainability/getinvolved/events/2012WWD.html

Thursday evening, the Okanagan Institute presents Wild Blue Wonder: Unraveling the Water Quandary, 5 to 7 p.m. at the Bohemian Cafe, with ecologist and writer Don Gayton, naturalist and specialist on endangered species and semi-arid grasslands habitat, Scott Alexander, and Jatel from the OBWB. Cost is $2 at the door.