Editor's Note: Plans are underway for the closing ceremony of the Southern Alberta Water Charter - date and time will be published soon! In the meantime, here's a special story from one of our signatories about their chosen action. Lori is a former OWC Board Member, and William is an acclaimed artist and teacher. Both are involved in KEPA (Kainai Ecological Protection Association) on the Blood Reserve. Most residents on the reserve need to have paid water trucked in because nothing - or nothing good - is coming out of their taps. Children haven't EVER been able to play with the garden hose. Yet water, and water protection, is something the Blackfoot hold dear as a way of life. Water quality and supply on reserves is a federal responsibility. This is not a story of what has gone wrong - but how two committed individuals are trying to make things right. "Be Wise and Persevere!" is their motto.
Submitted by William Singer III and Lori Brave Rock
Changing actions for a changing climate.
As a member of the OWC, I have had the opportunity to learn more about what stewardship is and about our responsibility to our entire watershed. Living out on the Blood Reserve in the Bull Horn area, our home is situated near a small lake that takes up a third of land we live on and the majority of it is cultivated. It is also an animal traffic corridor, where on any given day, you are sure to see some coyotes, deer, foxes, badgers, weasels as well as eagles, hawks, pelicans, swans, prairie chickens, and whooping cranes. All these animals frequent the lake where many seek nesting areas, and most of all, water to drink.
Through my wife Lori’s participation as a OWC board member, we both became more aware of our role in protecting our watershed by creating awareness, through education and the many partnerships that have been made. So, for the Southern Alberta Water Charter 2017 (SAWC17), we decided to make a change in our cultivation practices.
First of all, the cultivation was 25 feet in some areas and too close to the lake - thus affected by the fertilizers and herbicides that were used. We pushed the cultivation line back to about 200 feet, and the remaining land will be reclaimed to give back some valuable real estate to the wildlife, where it can be used more as hunting grounds and nesting areas.
This water body is home to various species of migrating water fowl, song birds, and birds of prey, along with numerous native species. Pushing back the cultivation line means the loss of 4 cultivated acres, but it’s a win for the small ecosystem surrounding the lake. All these animals rely on this body of water so the need to take action was most important, after all this is their drinking water!
Protecting and managing our water is important as our climate changes. Adaptation to changes in our climate will be unavoidable to survive the hot summers, smoke from numerous forest fires, and coping with the lack of moisture.
An action that will be continuous for us is the constant upkeep of the areas we frequent near lakes and rivers and streams. This is something everyone can do, so remember, always keep a trash bag handy! As members of the Kainai Ecosystem Protection Association (KEPA) as well, we engage with community members in the area to pass on the message to keep our areas clean, making a safer place to enjoy our traditional lands and waters for years to come.
Like the saying goes “We are all downstream!”.
Let’s all be stewards of the watershed and continually get involved.
Water is Life.
Lori Brave Rock and Wiliam Singer III