4th annual international conference, Canada’s 150th year:
One River. Ethics Matter.
Bringing justice & stewardship to the Columbia River
through Treaty renewal and negotiations
“The River is sacred. People will put aside their differences when it comes to the River and bringing back the salmon.”
– the late Virgil Seymour (1958 – 2016) Arrow Lakes (Sinixt) Facilitator for The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
When: Saturday, May 13, 9am – 4:00pm
Where: Revelstoke Community Centre, 600 Campbell Ave., Revelstoke, British Columbia
To RSVP: Laura Stovel (Revelstoke) firstname.lastname@example.org 250.814-8971
Decisions today about the Columbia River look back on two centuries of exploitation and look forward to unfolding climate change.
The 1846 Oregon Treaty that drew the international boundary is a daily reminder that rivers — and the life that depends upon rivers — are vulnerable to man’s arbitrary political boundaries.
For 150 years Canada and the United States have enjoyed a close relationship between nations. As the Trudeau and Trump administrations prepare to negotiate and modernize the Columbia River Treaty, it is particularly important to call on both nations to account for, and remedy the devastating consequences of the dam-building era on the Columbia River.
“It’s important for residents of the region to understand the history of what happened, so that we can have an informed voice in upcoming government discussions.”
– Eileen Delehanty Pearkes
author of A River Captured: The Columbia River Treaty and Catastrophic Change
In 1964, without consulting local people who would be impacted, the Canadian and British Columbia governments approved the Columbia River Treaty — and “Treaty dams.” Devastation followed.
The Treaty dams forced thousands of citizens from their homes and submerged land that was of spiritual, cultural and historic significance to indigenous peoples. The flooding destroyed river ecosystems and wildlife habitat and wiped out rich agricultural land, leaving, at best, highly variable wetlands and, at worst, vast mud flats and awful dust storms. Treaty hydropower power and resulting financial benefits leave the region on high-voltage transmission lines. Valleys of the Upper Columbia suffer from extreme and unpredictable water fluctuations to provide flood protection mostly for Portland and U.S. floodplain development, and heavily subsidized irrigated agriculture in the U.S. (notably potatoes for French fry export).
In 1934, the Canadian government sided with its Deputy Ministry of Fisheries with regard to the fate of salmon runs to the Upper Columbia when he wrote to the Canadian embassy in Washington that no commercial salmon fishery existed on that part of the river, “and hence Canadian interests in that respect will not be affected if the dam at Grand Coulee is not equipped with fishway facilities.”
We invite people to explore with us the implications of the . . . idea of human stewardship of creation, and to effect a spiritual, social, and ecological transformation of the watershed.
The Columbia River Watershed: Caring for Creation and the Common Good. Roman Catholic Bishops of the international watershed, 2001
Justice, ethical and stewardship issues lie heavily on the landscapes and impounded waters of the Columbia River. In response, First Nations, tribes, faith communities and NGOs are engaging in respectful dialogue across the international border to undo the damage of the past and help prepare the river and our communities for an uncertain climate-change future.
About the Revelstoke conference
On May 13, 2017, the fourth “One River, Ethics Matter” conference will remember the past and explore the ethical dimensions of Rivers as our responsibility in preparing for the future. In that process, the conference will hear from those who experienced the loss of homes, livelihoods, and traditions and from those with expertise in natural river flows, aquatic life, and climate change. Responses to resulting injustice and environmental problems will include consideration of the Columbia River Pastoral Letter by the Roman Catholic bishops of the international watershed and tools used by hospital ethics committees.
Recognizing that the Upper Columbia is ‘ground zero’ for international decisions in the Treaty, we encourage you to attend. Lunch will be provided.
Hosted by Mir Centre for Peace, Selkirk College, Okanagan College Faculty Association, North Columbia Environmental Society
Joan Craig, MD * Roman Catholic Diocese of Nelson * Archbishop John Privett, Anglican Diocese of Kootenay * Ktunaxa Nation Council * Upper Columbia United Tribes * Laurie Arnold PhD * North Columbia Environmental Society * Sierra Club BC * Yellowstone to Yukon * Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Southwestern Washington Synod * Citizens for a Clean Columbia * Columbia Institute for Water Policy * Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Washington State Chapter * Sierra Club, Washington State Chapter * Tom Soeldner & Linda Finney * Center for Environmental Law & Policy * Rachael & John Osborn
Bill Green, Bonnie Leonard, Chief Wayne Christian, D.R. Michel, Howie Wright, John Osborn, John Sirois, Keith Kutchins, Pauline Terbasket, Ray Cormier, Tom Soeldner