Innovative research and advocacy highlighted at World Water Day 2022

Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Water Institute and Students of the Water Institute Graduate Section (SWIGS) hosted their annual World Water Day Celebration on Tuesday, March 22.

In a mix of virtual and in-person events, eight high-profile groundwater experts and two environmental justice advocates addressed hundreds of attendees around Canada and beyond.

The first session featured: A Cross-Country Checkup on Canada’s Groundwater: Perspectives on the Future of one of Canada’s most Valuable Resources.

This event explored the vast diversity of Canada’s groundwater resources from coast to coast to coast with a panel of leading hydrogeologists from across the country. They explored current and future challenges to vulnerable coastal groundwater, challenges faced in central Canada as well as northern and remote communities.

Groundwater is one of Canada’s most critical, yet underappreciated natural resources, and the panel advocated for sustainable management in a changing world.

“10 million Canadians depend on groundwater daily as a source of fresh water, and this dependency is expected to grow,” David Rudolph.

Groundwter Panel

(Photo Top L to R) Magdalena Krol, York University, David Rudolph, University of Waterloo, Andrea Brookfield, University of Waterloo, Tom Gleeson, University of Victoria
(Bottom L to R) Jean-Michel Lemieux, Université Laval (Québec), Diana Allen, Simon Fraser University, Barret Kurylyk, Dalhousie University, Grant Ferguson, University of Saskatchewan.

The afternoon session featured: The Legacy of Environmental Racism in North America: Perspectives from Canada and the United States.

This event featured presentations from two inspiring high-profile advocates who lead community-level resistance movements against environmental racism.

This year’s Water Institute RBC Distinguished Lecturer was Dr. Ingrid Waldron, HOPE Chair in Peace and Health at McMaster University and author/producer of the book and Netflix documentary There’s Something in the Water. Dr. Waldron examined the legacy of environmental racism in Canada by highlighting cases in Indigenous and Black communities, the grassroots mobilization and resistance activities communities have engaged in, and the recent "wins" that have resulted from these efforts. 

Dr. Waldron encouraged students to pursue their passions  in research and advocating for environmental justice.

“Just because you don’t know everything about a topic,
doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t start doing the work,” Dr. Ingrid Waldron.

The second presentation was delivered by Monica Lewis-Patrick the 2022 University of Waterloo Jarislowsky Fellow, co-founder of We the People of Detroit, and known in the environmental justice community as The Water Warrior. Ms. Lewis-Patrick described how five Black women leaders in Detroit developed a network of volunteers to fight austerity measures and present a critical counter narrative to show the socio-economic consequences of these policies on access to clean water in Detroit and across the USA.

“Nothing in my background says that I should be here, other than my compassion for my community, my self-determination and the women that I have the honour of serving with have pushed me to go further than I ever dreamed I’d go,” Monica Lewis-Patrick.

Session speakers screen capture

(Photo Top L to R) Kevin White, Co-host, Waterloo PhD Candidate, Ingrid Waldron,
(Bottom) Monica Lewis-Patrick and Ashley Benjamin, Co-host, Waterloo undergraduate student.

Students of the Water Institute Graduate Section also hosted an in-person evening event in Uptown Waterloo for an opportunity to network and socialize in-person with other event attendees.

Special thanks to our 2022 World Water Day speakers and the generous support from the RBC Foundation. If you were unable to join us, please visit our YouTube channel to view recordings of the events.