Major Columbia River Conference starts Saturday

Religious and First Nation leaders from the Upper Columbia River will lead a one-day conference in Revelstoke this Saturday, May 13, on ethics, and the past and future of the Columbia River.

The conference series is a multi-year undertaking based on the Columbia River Pastoral Letter issued in 2001 by the Roman Catholic bishops of the international watershed, and tools used by hospital ethics consultation services.

The conference runs all day Saturday from 8 am until 4 pm at the Community Centre. This event is free and lunch is provided. Click here to view the poster.

The one-day river ethics conference brings together spiritual, indigenous and education leaders. Faith leadership include Anglican Archbishop John Privett, Roman Catholic Bishop John Corriveau, and Rev. Greg Powell of the Kootenay Presbytery. First Nation and tribal leadership include Chief Wayne Christian (Secwepemc), Sandra Luke and Marty Williams (Ktunaxa), Pauline Terbasket (Okanagan Nation Alliance), and D.R. Michel (Upper Columbia United Tribes) and Stevey Seymour (Sinixt/Arrow Lakes Band). Scholars and educators include Jeannette Armstrong (En’owkin Centre, Syilx scholar), Angus Graeme (President, Selkirk College), and Ariel McDowell (Principal of Aboriginal Education, School District 19).  Click to view the full agenda and list of speakers.

This is the fourth in a conference series entitled One River – Ethics Matter that examines the moral dimensions of the dam-building era with a focus on First Nations (Canada) and Indian tribes (US), and the river and life that depends on the river. The Columbia River Pastoral Letter, issued by Northwest Catholic bishops in 2001, provides a foundation and framework for the conference series. This series is modelled on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation public dialogue in the wake of apartheid. This Revelstoke conference follows three in Spokane (2014), Portland (2015), and Boise (2016). The fifth conference will be held in western Montana in 2017. (For more, see Ethics and Treaty Project).

Earlier conferences explored the profound effects of dams from Grand Coulee upstream on tribes and First Nations; how protecting flood plain settlement and development in the Portland area has come at the cost of permanently flooding river valleys and native homelands upstream; and re-licensing of Idaho Power Company’s Hells Canyon Complex of dams to provide passage for salmon now blocked from returning to the upper Snake River.

The local hosts of this conference are: the North Columbia Environmental Society, Mir Centre for Peace, Selkirk College and the Okanagan College Faculty Association.

Its sponsors are: Joan Craig MD; the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nelson; the Upper Columbia United Tribes; Laurie Arnold PhD; North Columbia Environmental Society; Sierra Club BC; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Southwestern Washington Synod; Citizens for a Clean Columbia Columbia Institute for Water Policy; Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Washington State Chapter; Sierra Club, Washington State Chapter; Center for Environmental Law & Policy; and Rachael and John Osborn.