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Join us for the 4th Multi-National Conference on ethics, and the past and future of the Columbia River

Revelstoke:  One River – Ethics Matter

More about the Revelstoke ethics conference

SATURDAY, MAY 13, 8:00 A.M. TO 4:15 P.M.

Community Centre, Revelstoke

RSVP with Laura Stovel: 250.814-8971
(Conference is free, and lunch is provided)

8:00     Registration

8:30     Welcome & Introduction

  • Welcome: Mark McKee, Mayor of Revelstoke
  • Opening Remarks: Bishop John Corriveau, OFM Cap, Nelson Diocese, Roman Catholic Church
  • Prayer:  Michelle Cole, chair of the Aboriginal Education Committee of School District 19

About the conference series:

9:10     Rivers of Our Moment

Water is life. The Columbia River watershed, an area the size of France, is one of the most remarkable river systems on earth.

– What are foundational ethical relationships between humans and water — in Judeo-Christian tradition, and an indigenous world view (including salmon)?


  • John Privett, Archbishop of Kootenay and Metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon, Anglican Church of Canada
  • Jeannette Armstrong, author, educator, artist, and activist involved with the En’owkin Centre

Moderator:  Sandra Luke, Chair, Ktunaxa Lands and Resource Council, Council member, Lower Kootenay Indian Band

——–  10:00 Break  ——–

10:15     Rivers Through Our Memory

The Columbia River was once among the richest salmon rivers on earth, including 100-pound “June hogs” swimming 1240 miles to Columbia Lake at the headwaters.   In the span of two centuries profound changes have come to the Columbia River Basin starting with epidemics and then first encounters with the British (David Thompson) and the Americans (Lewis and Clark).

The dam-building era transformed the river into a series of slack-water pools and dams plugged into an electric grid, providing flood management for lucrative floodplain development in Portland while permanently flooding homelands of the Upper Columbia.

Consequences have been wrenching: extirpating salmon, forcing 2300 people from their homes mostly in the Arrow Lakes region, and exchanging wildlife-rich river valleys and agricultural districts in the Upper Columbia for mud flats plagued by dust storms.


  • DR Michel – Sinixt/Arrow Lakes voice
  • Chief Chad Eneas – Okanagan National Alliance voice
  • Bonnie Leonard – Secwepemc voice (Tribal Director, Shuswap Nation Tribal Council
  • Crystal Spicer – on 2300 people who lost their homes and way of life from Treaty dams

Moderator: Angus Graeme, President and CEO, Selkirk College

———  12:00  Lunch (provided) ———

1:00     Rivers of Our Vision

Decisions about the Columbia River need to remember the past, including the wrenching impacts of the dam-building era, and anticipate a future of unfolding climate change.

  • What are likely impacts of climate change on the Upper Columbia?
  • Why are the cold, abundant waters of the Upper Columbia especially important to the entire Columbia River and salmon survival?
  • What is the Columbia River Treaty, and opportunities to modernize that Treaty?
  • Are there creative options for multi-national governance of the Columbia River that gives voice to the common good?
  • What are the opportunities to restore salmon to the mainstem Columbia River blocked by 2 dams in the U.S.: Chief Joseph dam and Grand Coulee dam?


  • Cindy Pearce – Climate Change
  • Jay Johnson – Columbia River Treaty (ONA Chief Negotiator and Sr. Policy Advisory)
  • Bill Green – Columbia River governance (Director, Canadian Columbia River Intertribal Fisheries Commission)
  • DR Michel – restoring salmon above Grand Coulee dam (Executive Director, Upper Columbia United Tribes)

Moderator: Bonnie Leonard

——–  2:30 Break  ——–

2:40     Rivers as Our Responsibility

The dam-building era is notable for repeated ethical failures to consult with people of the Columbia Basin who are impacted by government decisions, including First Nations and tribes, as well as thousands of settlers forced from their homes   Great injustices were done and are perpetuated under the existing river governance of the Columbia River Treaty.

  • What coordinated actions do we take to heal a region (both sides of the border) that has been sacrificed in history and largely for economic gain elsewhere?
  • What can people of the Columbia Basin learn from salmon continuing to return to the Okanagan River?
  • Given past damage and unfolding climate change, how do we advance the Pastoral Letter’s call to recognize our stewardship responsibilities “to effect a spiritual, social, and ecological transformation of the watershed”
  • How do we better recognize and build upon the strengths from the indigenous connections to the river from time immemorial to effect our ethical duties to transcend political boundaries to include the whole river?
  • Promoting justice and stewardship: how do we better support and empower impacted people willing to speak for the river and the common good who themselves are isolated from centers of political power and decision-making?


  • Rosalie Wilson-Yazzie, Okanagan National Alliance
  • The Rev. Greg Powell, Chair, Kootenay Presbytery
  • Ariel McDowell, principal of aboriginal education, School District 19, principal of Columbia Park Elementary School
  • Jody Lownds, President, North Columbia Environmental Society

Moderator: Hailey Ross, Executive Director, Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology

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