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250 “water-passionate” Canadians attending once-in-a-lifetime water learning opportunity

Sunday, October 17th 2010 2:49:30pm

Media Release
One Canadian so passionate he is cycling from Vancouver to Exshaw on a “wing and a prayer”

(Exshaw, Alberta, October 17, 2010) In just a few days, engaged young leaders from all over the country will converge in Alberta for a once-in-a-lifetime learning event that will turn their good intentions into concrete actions to protect our most precious natural resource: water.

These leaders will be attending the Canadian Water Innovation Lab (CWIL) from October 18 to 24, 2010 amongst the breathtaking natural beauty of the Rockies at Camp Chief Hector, near Calgary.

Kristian Dubrawski, a chemical and biological engineering PhD student at the University of British Columbia, was so keen on attending CWIL he left Vancouver for Exshaw last week—by bicycle. Even though he had not applied for CWIL, he embarked on his journey October 14 “on a wing and a prayer,” hoping the organizers would allow him to participate anyways. CWIL looks forward to welcoming this road warrior, whose PhD research is in water treatment for First Nations and developing world communities.

This unprecedented gathering has been dubbed the “unconference for uncommon young leaders.” It is designed to give 200 of Canada’s most water-passionate and proactive 18- to 35-year-olds the skills, insights, and connections to champion water management issues. Fifty facilitators are being trained starting tomorrow at the Pre-Lab, which is occurring at the Banff Centre.

CWIL’s mission is to develop leadership capacity, spur community water-related projects, and place water resource management issues prominently on the public agenda.

Hosted by Waterlution – A Water Learning Experience, CWIL is a natural extension of Waterlution’s mission. Waterlution has already hosted more than 35 workshops in nine provinces for over 750 youth and 100 policy-makers, scientists, business, Aboriginal, and community leaders — exceptional people looking for creative solutions to our complex water resource management problems. Water holds a central place in the Canadian imagination. Waterlution builds on that emotional connection to get water issues onto centre stage.

“Water is absolutely the number one issue we’ll be facing this century,” says Karen Kun, Waterlution’s Director. “In Canada, it’s something we take for granted. We don’t understand how closely it touches on every aspect of our lives. Waterlution’s goal is to help people understand that and learn the skills to create concrete positive changes in their hometowns.”

Rather than a typical “talking heads” event, participants will learn experientially through field trips and one-to-one interactions with mentors such as water resource practitioners, policy makers, activists, educators, and Aboriginal and community leaders. These mentors include such water luminaries as R.W. (Bob) Sandford, the EPCOR Chair of the Canadian Partnership Initiative in support of United Nations “Water for Life” Decade; Alex Salki, a research biologist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans; Tony Maas, WWF-Canada's national advisor on freshwater policy and planning; Professor Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, joint faculty member in Social Work and Aboriginal Studies at the University of Toronto; and David Henderson, Managing Director of XPV Capital Corporation and a member of the 2009 Top 40 under 40.

Many mentors also come from Alberta, including Brian Ilnicki, Executive Director of the Land Stewardship Centre of Canada; Dr. Shawn Marshall, a glaciologist and the Canada Research Chair in Climate Change at the University of Calgary; and Harvey Buckley, retiring Rocky View councillor and rancher.

Topics to be covered include water as it relates to climate change, agriculture, municipalities and infrastructure, mountain and coastal ecosystems, and energy.

“New and long-term pressures threaten our water resources but our current policy and management approaches are woefully outdated,” says Kun. “There is a need for a safe space — spanning generations, sectors, and cultures — in which solutions can be developed collaboratively. That is what CWIL is all about.”

October 18 to 24, 2010
For event schedule, go to http://www.waterlution.org. Media is invited for opening night, field tours on October 22, and the closing presentations.

Camp Chief Hector
Exshaw, Alberta
For directions, see: http://www.ymcacalgary.org/web/Default.aspx?cid=3482〈=1

Photos and updates:
Media photos will be taken the weekend of October 23/24 and uploaded to http://waterlution.org.

To get instant, daily updates from the Lab, follow @TheLab2010 on Twitter

Click here to see which cities the unconference attendees are from.

For more information, to interview Kristian and/or the organizers, and attend as media, contact:

Karen Kun, Director, Waterlution – A Water Learning Experience

Victoria Goodday, Program Coordinator, Waterlution – A Water Learning Experience

About Waterlution – A Water Learning Experience

Founded in 2003 by social entrepreneurs Karen Kun and Tatiana Glad, Waterlution is a water learning organization that brings together young leaders interested or working on water-related topics – for peer-to-peer and inter-generational programs. Workshops and activities often take place over a weekend or are customized to work with partners and groups at selected events.

To date, Waterlution has already hosted more than 35 workshops in nine provinces for some 750 youth and 100 scientists, business, Aboriginal, and community leaders, and policy makers — exceptional people looking for creative solutions to our complex water resource management problems.