Bring water to share at World Water Day opening ceremony at UBC Okanagan

A few drops will do. A First Nations Gathering-of-Waters ceremony is planned for World Water Day opening ceremonies Mar. 25 at UBC Okanagan, and the public is invited to get involved by bringing small samples of water.

“We are asking everyone to bring a vial of water to contribute,” says Dr. John Wagner, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and faculty chair for a week of World Water Day activities at UBC Okanagan. “A few drops of water is all they need – from whatever source is meaningful to them. It could be from their house, a creek, or the lake, or any source they have a personal connection with.”

The Gathering-of-Waters ceremony will be under the direction of Syilx (Okanagan) Knowledge Keepers who will speak on their perspectives of water and the significance of this public ceremonial “gathering” of water. Once the gathered water has been pooled in a single container, the Knowledge Keepers will be taking the water away to complete the blessing of the gathered water with elders.

“We encourage people who are bringing water to also bring a brief statement on a piece of paper, telling us about their water and why is it meaningful to them,” says Wagner. “We’ll post those statements that day, so others can learn about the water that has been shared.”

The Gathering-of-Waters ceremony is just one featured part of opening ceremonies from 12:30 to 2 p.m. on Mar. 25 in the UBC Okanagan campus courtyard.

The ceremonies begin with a water-bottle drum procession with Neil Cadger, a professor with the Department of Creative Studies’ Performance program, leading students, faculty and staff in a celebratory parade of percussion.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip Opens World Water Day

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chief of the Penticton Indian Band, Chair of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, and President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, will deliver the World Water Day opening address following welcoming remarks by Dr. Doug Owram, UBC Okanagan Deputy Vice Chancellor.

A musical presentation follows, composed by Dr. Hugo De Burgos and performed by UBC Okanagan students, staff, and faculty. Other World Water Week speakers will also present information and perspectives on water stewardship.

Look Seven Generations Ahead, Says Distinguished Speaker Winona LaDuke

Winona LaDuke, Native American environmental advocate, will speak at 7 p.m., Mar. 25, at Kelowna’s Rotary Centre for the Arts about indigenous views on the environment, efforts to protect land on the White Earth Ojibwe Reservation in Minnesota where she lives, and how thinking seven generations ahead would impact our world’s natural systems -- particularly water, agriculture and energy.

Tickets for this Distinguished Speaker Series event are free but must be picked up or ordered in advance from the Rotary Centre for the Arts box office (call 250.717.5304). Distinguished Speaker Series events typically fill up quickly. If the event is sold out, there will be a standby lineup at the event and efforts will be made to accommodate everyone.

Kelowna Wastewater Treatment Tour, Mar. 26

On Wednesday, Mar. 26, the public is invited to tour the City of Kelowna’s Wastewater Treatment Facility, 951 Raymer Ave. from 12 noon to 2:30 p.m. Transportation from the UBC Okanagan campus will be provided for students who pre-register by contacting

World Water Day Film Night, Mar. 26

There’s Magic on the Water at UBC Okanagan on Wednesday evening, Mar. 26. World Water Week’s Film Night begins with Magic on the Water, a one-hour feature documentary capturing poignant stories of the Okanagan first peoples, at 4:30 p.m. in the Arts Building ART103.

Produced by award-winning independent broadcast journalist and producer Tracey Kim Jack, the documentary describes the biodiversity of ancient rivers, creeks, streams and beaches throughout the Okanagan Valley.

A second independently produced film, The Water Front, will be shown at 5:30 p.m. This newly released film will be introduced by Stephen Foster, video artist and Associate Professor of Visual Arts at UBC Okanagan, on behalf of the director, Montreal-based film maker Liz Miller.

The Water Front documents a water crisis occurring in Highland Park, Michigan, where the municipality no longer has the capacity to provide affordable clean water to its citizens.

Student Poetry Slam

Creative Writing Professor Nancy Holmes’ students will present their original poetry work at a Poetry Slam from 12 noon to 2 p.m. in the Student Service Centre Sunroom (beside the Cafeteria) on Mar. 27.

Water Poster Days

Visit the UBC Okanagan Student Service Centre foyer on Thursday, Mar. 20, and from Mar. 25 to 27 to view student posters covering a variety of water-related topics.

Dr. Diana French's Anthropology students will display their posters about B.C. First Nations and water issues all week. The winning poster will be announced at the World Water Day opening ceremony Tuesday afternoon.

Dr. Bruce Mathieson's Biology students will present a display on Bisphenol A in plastic water containers. Posters will also be presented by Fresh Water Science students and other UBC Okanagan student course unions.

Public Forum on Water Quality, Mar. 27

In the closing event for World Water Week, a panel of experts will discuss water quality issues at a public forum on water quality from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Mar. 27.

The forum is being held onboard the Fintry Queen, docked at 210 Bernard Ave. in Kelowna. The panel will take questions from the audience, and coffee and conversation will follow the formal panel presentation.

More information about World Water Day events can be found on the web at

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