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Past Events

Human Rights and Political Apology: What comes after the government says "sorry"?

Documentary film screening of “A Sorry State” and facilitated panel discussion with film director Mitchell Miyagawa and political scientist Dr. Matt James that will provide space for participants to explore three landmark political apologies across diverse cultural and historical settings and the implications for human rights, social justice, conflict resolution and peace-making. Co-sponsored by UVic Equity and Human Rights Office, UVic Centre for Global Studies, UVic Social Justice Studies Program.


Location:  Harry Hickman Building, Room 105


Cost: Free and open to the public, everyone welcome

Webinar—Understanding B.C.’s Waterscape: The Emerging “Water Movement” & the Power of the Poll

This was the first webinar in the POLIS Water Sustainability Project's 2013/2014 Creating a Blue Dialogue webinar series. It was presented in partnership with the Canadian Freshwater Alliance with support from the Canadian Water Network.

Webinar Summary

What exactly does the average person think about water in Canada? And what does this mean for freshwater sustainability in British Columbia? Over the past two years, the Canadian Freshwater Alliance has been working with pollster Angus McAllister to undertake opinion research on public attitudes on freshwater protection in Canada. This has involved a series of focus groups in B.C., as well as a nationwide public opinion survey. In this webinar, Angus shared findings from his research, and outcomes from this latest poll. These findings point to important lessons for groups and organizations working on freshwater protection that want to better engage the public in critical conversations and action. Consultant Tim Morris—co-author of the POLIS/REFBC report The State of the Water Movement in British Columbia—discussed B.C.’s emerging on-the-ground “water movement” and how leadership for freshwater protection can be strengthened to help British Columbia reach its potential to become a global leader in freshwater protection and sustainability.

Guest Speakers

Angus McAllister, Principal, Fathom6 Strategies
Tim Morris, Principal, Tim Morris Consulting & Co-Author, The State of the Water Movement in British Columbia

Upcoming Webinars

Stay tuned for more information on upcoming webinars in the POLIS Water Sustainability Project's Creating a Blue Dialogue webinar series! For more information, contact Laura Brandes at

View archived webinars from past seasons.

New Report "The State of the Water Movement in British Columbia: A Waterscape Scan and Needs Assessment of B.C. Watershed-Based Groups"

Released on July 17th, the new report The State of the Water Movement in British Columbia compiles the perspectives and opinions of a diverse mix of British Columbia’s water leaders. This comprehensive assessment of the B.C. water community is the first of its kind; a survey was sent to over 230 water groups and interviews were conducted with 11 selected water champions.

This report was co-published by the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance and the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, in partnership with the Polis Foundation, to better understand the capacity, needs, and priorities of the freshwater community in B.C., and to identify some priorities for building the necessary leadership and capacity for freshwater protection in the province.  Read more and download the report.

The Future of our Watershed: Resilience and Local Control, Public Event

Where: Quw'utsun' Cultural and Conference Centre, 200 Cowichan Way, Duncan

Cost: Free

On June 25th, the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance co-hosted a public talk and panel discussion in partership with the Cowichan Watershed Board and One Cowichan. The event focussed on resilience planning, and the potential for this approach in the Cowichan watershed.

The event explored the importance of "resilience thinking"  the ability to deal with change in a watershed. Guest speaker Ryan Plummer (Environmental Sustainablity Research Centre, Brock University) discussed how the world is changing, and how the traditional watershed management model is no longer viable. Drawing on progressive examples from around the world, his talk highlighted new tools and emerging approaches for dealing with crises and the need for strong watershed governance. Following the talk, local panelists David Slade (Cowichan Watershed Board), Tim Kulchyski (Cowichan Tribes), and Jane Kilthei (One Cowichan) discussed perspectives from the Cowichan watershed, and the issue of local control. An open question and answer period followed.


Webinar—Giving Nature a Voice: Legal Rights of Waterways

This is the fifth, and final, webinar in the POLIS Water Sustainability Project's 2012/2013 Creating a Blue Dialogue webinar series. We will return in the fall of 2013. View archived webinars.

Webinar Summary

The weaknesses of our environmental laws stem in large part from the fact that the overarching legal system treats the natural world as property that can be exploited and degraded, rather than as an integral ecological partner with its own rights to exist and thrive. While our laws focus on the rights and needs of people to flourish, they pay relatively little attention to the same rights on the part of the natural world. They assume that the environment will be protected if humans take from it a little less, and a little less quickly. But this simply slows, never stops, the downward slide. Drawing on case studies from around the world—including the Whanganui River in New Zealand—the guest speakers will discuss the importance of rights of waterways, progress that has been made, and challenges that lie ahead.

For more information, including pre-webinar reading material, visit the POLIS Water Sustainability Project website.

Guest Speakers

Linda Sheehan
Executive Director, Earth Law Center

Vernon Tava
Solicitor, Grey Lynn Neighbourhood Law Office, New Zealand

To register email Laura Brandes at

Webinar—When the Water Dries Up: Lessons from the Failure of Water Entitlements in Canada and the U.S.


This is the fourth webinar in the POLIS Water Sustainability Project's 2012/2013 Creating a Blue Dialogue webinar series. View archived webinars from past seasons.

Webinar Summary

Problem-solving ways to adapt to water scarcity is becoming an increasingly real issue, both globally and in North America. However, this problem‐solving is often challenged—and sometimes even halted—when legal entitlements (or “rights”) to water are exerted. Legal entitlements can undermine attempts at progressive water management approaches that, for example, address increased water scarcity due to over-allocation or a changing climate. In this webinar, the guest speakers will discuss how our historic reliance on individual “rights” to water is, in fact, often at odds with the on-the-ground responses of licence holders to water scarcity: when faced with scarcity, licence holders will frequently forego their legal entitlements in favour of negotiated, local solutions in their watershed. Using the Klamath Basin Agreements of 2010 as an example of a recent, complex and comprehensive approach to resolving problems with water scarcity, the speakers will discuss the gap between on-the-ground practice and legal concept in theory.

For more information, including pre-webinar reading material, visit the POLIS Water Sustainability Project website.

Guest Speakers

Deborah Curran
Hakai Professor in Environmental Law and Sustainability & Program Director, Environmental Law Centre, University of Victoria Faculty of Law

Glen Spain
Northwest Regional Director, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations

To register email Laura Brandes at


Webinar—Maintaining SuperNatural B.C. for Our Children: Selected Law Reform Proposals

This is the third webinar in the POLIS Water Sustainability Project's 2012/2013 Creating a Blue Dialogue webinar series. To view archived webinars click here.


Our current laws have failed to keep pace with B.C.’s booming resource industries and population growth. In some cases, our laws are actually weaker than they were a few years ago. In this webinar, the guest speakers will discuss specific recommendations for changing B.C. environmental laws. These recommendations will draw on chapters from the new book Maintaining SuperNatural BC for Our Children: Selected Law Reform Proposals, which was published by the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre in December 2012. Featuring three contributing authors of the book, this webinar will explore solutions to water-specific issues that have been proposed by environmental law experts. These recommendations will be presented with the hope of triggering both debate and consideration, and sparking new law reform ideas from other experts in the field. For more information, including pre-webinar reading material, click here.


Calvin Sandborn
Legal Director, Environmental Law Centre, University of Victoria
Editor of Maintaining SuperNatural BC for Our Children: Selected Law Reform Proposals

Andrew Gage
Staff Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law

Jamie Alley
Vice President Pacific, Coastal Zone Canada Association

To register email Laura Brandes at


Critical Issues in B.C.'s Watersheds: Industry, Indigenous Governance & Legal Entitements

Presenters: Jesse Baltutis (Event Host), Michelle-Lee Moore (Event Moderator), Oliver M. Brandes (Presenter)

Where: University of Victoria, Sedgewick Building, C168

Focused through the lens of our changing climate—and changing hydrology—this event explored three priority water challenges facing Canadians today: natural gas development and tracking; indigenous governance and collaborative water governance; and water entitlements. It also included an exploration of social innovation and water governance reform as options for addressing these issues. Presentations drew on current research from a diversity of UVic departments and centres (Centre for Global Studies, Environmental Studies, Geography, Law). The event was sponsored by the UVic Centre for Global Studies and the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, and was part of UVic Ideafest 2013.

Webinar—The Climate Resilience Gap: A Global Insurer's Perspective

On February 13th, the POLIS Water Sustainability Project partnered with the Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and Adaptation Resources (OCCIAR) and the Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT) to host this webinar, which was presented as part of the Climate Change Adaptation Community of Practice (CCACoP)’s free webinar series.

WHAT: The Climate Resilience Gap: A Global Insurer’s Perspective
DATE: Wednesday February 13, 2013
TIME: 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. PT (1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET)

This webinar featured a discussion of how to leverage the insurance “tool” for a better resilience outcome by Lindene Patton (Chief Climate Product Officer, Zurich Insurance Group) with responses from Robert Sandford (Chair, Canadian Partnership Initiative of the UN Water for Life Decade) and Jon O’Riordan (Water Policy Advisor, POLIS Project on Ecological Governance; Research Director, ACT). It focused on many of the same themes discussed at the November 2012 webinar "Adapting to a Changing Climate: The Perspective of an Insurer on Water and Risk Governance."

David R. Boyd's telephone Town Hall on "the right to a healthy environment"

Join David R. Boyd in a telephone Town Hall on "the right to a healthy environment" hosted by the David Suzuki Foundation on February 3 from 4-5 pm Pacific.

Why is our right to clean air, safe water and fertile soil not protected in Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Are people healthier in countries where environmental laws are stronger? Should nature have rights? What can Canadians learn from the global environmental rights movement?

These are just some of the questions that will be discussed with special guest Dr. David Boyd—environmental lawyer, professor and author of The Right to a Healthy Environment—at the David Suzuki Foundation Telephone Town Hall.

Information and sign-up details at: