Students at UBC’s Okanagan campus plan Splashdown and other events
As World Water Day draws closer, organizers at UBC’s Okanagan campus hope people get caught up with the wave of excitement for a number of water appreciation activities.
World Water Day, which takes place March 22, is a United Nations Initiative that was established in 1993. Each year, an international theme is selected — this year’s is water cooperation — and local groups organize events to help promote the idea of clean drinking water and water sustainability around the globe.
“Living in the Okanagan Valley means that water is a fabulously important aspect of our lives,” says Assoc. Prof. of Anthropology John Wagner. “The goal of World Water Day is to make people more aware of the importance of water in our lives. Every aspect of water whether it’s for agriculture, drinking, or recreation, has such a profound importance for all of us.”
World Water Days takes place March 20 to 22 and Wagner says organizers hope to get the community engaged and involved in most of the activities. Opening ceremonies, hosted by the UBC Students’ Union Okanagan, take place at the campus in the University Centre Ballroom, 3272 University Way, at noon on Thursday, March 21. Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray will be the guest speaker at the event, which will also include a drum presentation, musical entertainment and poetry readings.
That evening, Jan Vozenilek, cinematographer and founder of Copper Sky Productions, will share images of Midway Island and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vortex in the Pacific Ocean where plastic and chemical sludge has been trapped long enough to turn it into a three kilometre-wide floating island of garbage.
“Some of it is comes from ocean vessels but the vast majority comes from the great rivers of the world, carried here by ocean currents where it aggregates and remains,” says Wagner.
“The story is a story of connection between freshwater and ocean currents, and a story about how people in all countries need to cooperate to solve a huge environmental problem. This is such a compelling story, who really knew what was going on in the ocean?”
Vozenilek, who has won international acclaim for his cinematography and passion about the environment, will be at the Rotary Centre for the Arts at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 21. The public is encouraged to attend this free event.
On Friday, university researchers compete in Splashdown—a fun event, where participants have three minutes and three slides to explain their water-related research. Wagner says it promises to be entertaining.
“Each speaker will have a limited time to explain the relevance of their research, with the focus being that this is a fun, community event. The information they present has to be relevant to the community. This is really a great opportunity for us to let people know what researchers are doing at UBCO. ”
Splashdown takes place at Summerhill Winery and is free to attend, however audience members, who will select the Splashdown winners, must register. They can do so at http://wwdsplashdown.eventbrite.ca/
Immediately following Splashdown, the Okanagan Basin Water Board hosts its annual panel discussion, this year entitled Love your water body. CBC Radio’s Daybreak South host Chris Walker moderates the discussion and speakers will share their stories about the water they love and the work they are doing to protect it. More details about the panel can be found at: http://www.obwb.ca/.
Splashdown begins at 4 p.m. and the panel discussion will begin at 5 p.m. Summerhill Winery is located at 4870 Chute Lake Rd., Kelowna.
From Wednesday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., posters by Political Ecology students will be on display in the foyer of the Arts building on campus. Wagner encourages people to come onto campus and take a look at the work that students are doing and participate in some of the Water Day events.
“These activities are organized by students at UBC and it’s great to see them stepping up to take on these challenges. We do celebrate water in the Okanagan, but we also need to be aware of the sustainability and health of our water systems.”
World Water Day is organized by the UBC Okanagan World Water Day Coordinating Committee and the Okanagan Basin Water Board with the support of the Okanagan Sustainability Office, the Okanagan Sustainability Institute, Community, Culture and Global Studies, and many private donors.