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6th annual conference on ethics, and the past and future of the Columbia River Basin

Agenda May 30-31

More about the Conference at the Confluence

Selkirk College, Community Colleges of Spokane

Registration is closed as we are full.  Our apologies.

This conference will be recorded for public education purposes and broadcast on various outlets.

May 30 – Thursday

9 – 10 am  Registration (front entrance, Selkirk College)

10 am – 1 pm Field Trips  (rain or shine – meet at front entrance of the college).    Departure:  10 a.m.  Children must have waivers signed. 

  • History Tour

Takaia Larsen (Selkirk), Harry Wong Jr. (Sinixt, Seattle WA), Duff Sutherland (Selkirk)

This field trip will focus on the social history at the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay rivers. Throughout the trip we will explore the interactions between early inhabitants of this region and the landscape through visiting current historical sites. We will travel by van to several sites of importance to the human history of the immediate area including the house and the grounds of the Mir Centre for Peace and Zuckerberg Island Heritage Park on the Columbia river. Selkirk College’s history instructors will lead the tour. A couple of short walks will be required to reach the sites so please bring walking shoes, water, food (snacks and/or lunch) and anything else you might need to enjoy this journey into the historical landscape at the confluence.

  • Hiking Ecology and Botany Tour

Brenda Beckwith (Selkirk), Valerie Huff (Kootenay Native Plant Society)

Late May is a lovely time to hike in the West Kootenay! We will head up a moderate-level hiking trail on Mt. Sentinel to see beautiful spring wildflowers in lush pocket meadows and take in the extraordinary view of the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia rivers located just below the mountain. The hike will be led by botanists with the Kootenay Native Plant Society who specialize in plants that have high ecological and cultural value. Please bring water, food (snacks and/or lunch), proper hiking boots, hat, and clothing, sunscreen, and hiking poles (optional).

  • Canoe paddle through the Navigation Lock at Hugh Keenleyside Dam

Graeme Lee Rowlands (Columbia River Field School/Wildsight), Tim Thurston (Selkirk), Keyes Lessard (Selkirk), Pier van Dishoeck (Selkirk)

Join us as we paddle canoes across the Arrow Lakes Reservoir to the upstream end of the Hugh Keenleyside Dam, which was built in 1968 to provide downstream flood control as part of the Columbia River Treaty. Then, we will travel through the navigation lock and onto one of only four remaining free-flowing stretches left on the entire length of the Columbia River. Canoes with equipment and safety/technique instruction by certified instructors will be provided. Please bring water, food (snacks and/or lunch), appropriate clothing and shoes (layers), sunscreen, sunglasses, and anything else you think you will need to be on the water for up to 2 hours.

1 pm – 2 pm Lunch (Bring your own)

2 pm – 4 pm Spotlight on Youth (all ages encouraged – Cafeteria)

Dominique Wiley-Camacho and the students of the Salish School of Spokane, and Graeme Lee Rowlands and the students of the Columbia River Field School and Olivia Allen (Waterlution)

A two hour interactive session that showcases youth engagement work from around the watershed and provides space to reflect on ethical responsibilities related to young people, future generations, and the land on which they live. This will include a language lesson in Salish led by secondary students from the Salish School of Spokane and storytelling from students of the Columbia River Field School. Please join us!

4 pm – 4:30 Walk to River (SC front entrance)

Led by Allison Lutz (Selkirk) and Brenda Beckwith (Selkirk)

4:30 pm – 5:30 Blessing of the Salishan Sturgeon Nose Canoe 

Shelly Boyd (Inchelium Language and Culture Association, and Arrow Lakes Facilitator, Colville Confederated Tribes), Shawn Brigman (artist, Spokane Tribe,  Salishan Sturgeon Nose Canoe, Founder)

6 pm – 7 pm BBQ at the Mir Centre for Peace ($15, pre-registration required)

7 pm Circle Introductions Around the Fire (Mir Centre for Peace)

Nathan Piengkham (Kalispel Tribe of Indians)

May 31 – Friday

8 – 8:30 a.m.     Registration & Coffee

8:30 – 9:15     Opening, Prayer & Welcome  (Cafeteria)

  • Master of Ceremonies:  Jennie Barron (Mir Centre for Peace, Selkirk College)
  • Opening:  Hazel Squakim (Sinixt/Syilx Elder) and Shelly Boyd (Inchelium Language and Culture Association, and Arrow Lakes Facilitator, Colville Confederated Tribes)
  • Academic Welcome:  Rhys Andrews (Vice-President, Selkirk College), Glen Cosby (Vice-President, Spokane Community College)
  • Overview of Conference Series:
    The Rev. W. Thomas Soeldner (Ethics & Treaty Project) and John Osborn, MD (Ethics & Treaty Project)

9:15 – 10:00     Rivers of Our Moment   (Cafeteria)

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 worldview?

10:00 – 10:15     Break

10:15 – 12     Rivers Through Our Memory  (Cafeteria)

The Columbia River was once among the richest salmon rivers on earth, including 100-pound “June hogs” swimming 1,240 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 cheap power and flood management for lucrative floodplain development mostly in the Portland-Vancouver WA metropolitan area while permanently flooding indigenous homelands of the Upper Columbia.  Consequences have been wrenching.

12 – 1      Lunch

1 – 2:15     Rivers of Our Vision  (Breakout Sessions)

Decisions about the Columbia River need to remember the past 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? 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?

Room A.   Imaging the future together (The Gathering Place)

This session will feature a forward looking interactive session on what the future of the Columbia River may look like. Attendees will get a chance to hear a variety of visionary speakers talk about contemporary issues and their ideas to address these issues. The session will then ask participants to add their ideas to begin to imagine a future for the river together.

  • Pauline Terbasket, Executive Director, Okanagan Nation Alliance
  • Cindy Pearce, Columbia River Treaty Local Governments Committee
  • Richard Paisley, Global Transboundary International Waters Governance Initiative – University of British Columbia
  • Moderator: Kindy Gosal, Columbia Basin Trust
Room B.   Ecosystem Function  (Staff Lounge)
  • Greg Utzig, Upper Columbia Basin Environmental Collaborative
  • Gwen Bridge, Gwen Bridge Consulting Ltd
  • Jim Heffernan Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
  • Moderator: Martin Carver, Upper Columbia Basin Environmental Collaborative
Room C.   Restoring Salmon to the Upper Columbia (Kokanee 11)

2:15 – 2:30    Break

2:30 – 3:45     Rivers as our Responsibility  (Cafeteria)

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 local communities. 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? Given past damage and unfolding climate change, how do we advance the Columbia River 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?

3:45 – 4     Closing (Cafeteria)

4     Adjourn

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