PHOTO: Water birds at Echo Lake
Adopted at June 15th, 2019 AGM
Ecosystems everywhere on the planet continue to be degraded by the impacts of ever-growing numbers of humans trying to survive or prosper under the dominant corporate economy. Those running and mostly benefiting from the dominant economy are always looking for ways to grow and profit. But we know that this is not working well, even for humans, and that this “status quo” will continue to undermine the quality of future life on this planet.
The health of all ecosystems on the planet – ocean eco-systems, forest, wetland and grassland ecosystems, are in decline. They are all losing their critical mass and biodiversity at an alarming rate. Without restoring them, their sustainability and our wellbeing will remain in great jeopardy.
People everywhere need to help make great leaps to reverse these trends. Otherwise, ecosystems that have evolved on the planet will not be able to maintain the biodiversity needed for human security and wellbeing. Clean soil, water and air and climate stability, for future wellbeing of all life, depend on the protection and restoration of these natural ecosystems.
Global warming will continue to bring more catastrophic climate and extreme weather events until we lower emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases. We already see signs of ecological collapse, which with unchecked global warming, will lead to the extinction of as many as one million species. Time is running out; the present generations have to make it their top priority to help make the needed transformation.
Grasslands are the most decimated ecosystem worldwide, with prairie ecosystems being among the most challenging to protect and restore. As much as 95% of prairie grasslands have been transformed by human activities, mostly through mining the soil. As such, people growing up in these depleted environments often don’t grasp and can’t grasp what is happening ecologically. Whether of Indigenous and/or Settler background, what we now do will or won’t set the stage for the needed transformation.
The prairies that the Qu’Appelle Valley Watershed flows through are one of the most intensely impacted agricultural areas on the planet. We live in the most stressed and vulnerable watershed in the province and one of the most polluted in all Canada.
Our Watershed has endured decades of sewage from upstream Regina. Our lakes and marshes are unhealthy for all the living creatures that depend upon them. This is not the recreational wonderland that we knew as children. And our watershed continues to be abused.
The decline in ecological biodiversity puts many species at risk and it undermines water quality. Urban sewage, chemical agriculture, wetland destruction and the industrialization of water contribute to the deterioration of surface water and threaten groundwater which takes centuries to replenish. Land use practices have to be altered quickly. Prairie temperature is rising at twice the rate of overall global warming and protecting water will be extremely challenging. We are already one of the extreme water crisis areas on the planet; along with the sub-Sahara, Middle East, parts of Australia and S.E. USA. There are no excuses for squandering our ecological home for short-term commercial, political or personal self-interest.
Settlement patterns and commercial enterprises must protect floodplains, marshes, lakeshores and valley landscapes. Agriculture must protect wetlands and the health of the soil. Industrial processes can no longer squander and contaminate land and water. Everyone must sign on to protecting the atmosphere and immediately lowering their carbon footprint. Buffers that protect streams, rivers, lakes and hillsides from toxic chemical runoff need to be created through grassroots ecological cooperation and stringent environmental regulation. We have to think big if we are going to alter the future prospects for our watershed.
It is all doable. Politicians at all levels of government and businesses of all sizes, especially in agriculture and industry, can no longer ignore the ecological crisis on the prairies. All economic wealth can be directly traced to the biodiversity and sustainability of natural ecosystems and we squander and abuse these at our and our children’s peril. Without protecting grasslands, wetlands, forests and ocean and corral ecosystems, we will not have sustainable soil, air, water; plant and animal life and food and shelter.
Those of us who live here, in the Qu’Appelle Valley, have to become even more knowledgeable and active to protect our grassland watershed. Everyone has to do their part to reduce their pollution, including plastic waste and other garbage which contribute to the degradation of our watershed and accelerate global warming. This will require a big shift in awareness and generating unprecedented common commitment. We can no longer treat the earth and its life-giving soil, plants, animals, air and water as being secondary to the economy. We can no longer sacrifice the environment for the economy; we need to find a better way forward.
It is time to wake up and take action to help create a sustainable future on the prairies and across the planet.
In view of the urgency of the global ecological crisis, including global warming and the massive loss of bio-diversity, and the particular crisis for our watershed on the prairies, the QVEA recommits to initiate, facilitate, encourage and partner for research, education and action plans to:
1) Lower the carbon footprint of all human activities within the Qu’Appelle Valley Watershed;
2) Alter land uses to stop the destruction of wetlands and the unprecedented chemical pollution of land, air and water in the Qu’Appelle Valley Watershed;
3) Work for ecological buffers along streams, rivers, lakes and valley walls, which can reduce toxic runoff and better protect watershed habitats and water quality; and
4) Move towards ecologically-responsible, collaborative governance in the cities, towns and villages; in First Nations and rural areas in the Qu’Appelle Valley Watershed.
The Qu’Appelle Valley Environmental Association (QVEA) was formed in early 2016 to protect and restore the watershed and landscape of the Qu’Appelle Valley. It will pursue this through several channels – research, education, networking, advocacy and direct action.
The Qu’Appelle Valley is the drainage system for a huge watershed which is home to indigenous people from sixteen First Nations and includes several rural municipalities. The Lower Qu’Appelle Watershed (LQW) includes the Calling Lakes – Pasqua, Echo, Mission, Katepwa, Round and Crooked lakes. It stretches from Southey in the west to Rocanville in the east. It includes the city of Melville and the towns of Fort Qu’Appelle, Broadview and Esterhazy to the north and Indian Head, Wolseley, Grenfell and Whitewood to the south.
The QVEA will tackle the most critical issues facing the Valley and LQW - upstream threats from urban, mainly Regina sewage and increasingly from water diversion for industry; threats from unregulated drainage and toxic run-off from chemical agriculture; threats from oil pipelines and spills and from environmentally-unacceptable municipal land use practices widespread in the Valley.
The QVEA will work to protect the vulnerable hillsides, wetlands, shorelines and riverbanks from further degradation, both from irresponsible local actions and from systemic threats to the whole watershed. The reduction of water quality and flow due to massive water diversion for industry will inevitably undermine waterway and habitat preservation and restoration.
The QVEA will act as an informed watchdog on all practices that jeopardize the ecological and social health of the Qu’Appelle Valley. It will hold to account those with the authority and responsibility to protect the environment and water, at all levels of government, including local governments within the Valley. All must enhance their policies and regulatory practices if the Qu’Appelle Valley is to be protected and restored.
The QVEA is not a “not-in-my-backyard”, NIMBY organization. The “big picture”, including extreme weather from climate change and harms from existing resource extraction practices, must be a priority. As such the QVEA will collaborate with like-minded organizations and coalitions throughout the province who are committed to proactive environmental activism and to creating a truly sustainable path for Saskatchewan.
Adopted at August 10, 2016 meeting.
PHOTO: Echo Lake
Founding Document, Feb. 10, 2016 meeting
“The Valley has a rich geological, cultural and recreational heritage. It has been the natural home for many creatures and ongoing human communities. It is a true gem of biodiversity.
The rich indigenous history goes back thousands of years. Agricultural, urban and industrial-based settler communities have brought many opportunities and challenges. There are now multiple threats to the Valley’s ecological integrity.
The Qu’Appelle Watershed is one of the most “at risk” on the prairies. Decades of irresponsible upstream urban contamination have degraded the watershed; the Calling Lakes are becoming toxic sink holes. Increasing agricultural toxins and runoff accelerate the valley’s degradation. Irresponsible, unregulated drainage practices threaten water quality and compound the risks of flooding.
There is a basic lack of ecologically-responsible municipal land-use planning and regulation to protect and preserve the hillsides, shorelines, flood plains, marshes and river banks. Precious habitats are in decline. Climate change and extreme weather events are already compounding these problems.
Commercially promoting (branding) the Valley in an attempt to rejuvenate the local economy without also protecting the natural environment from further abuses has fundamental limits. The viability of tourism, summer and winter sports, and having healthy communities, all depend upon restoring a healthy environment.
We are therefore forming an association of environmentally-concerned residents in the Qu’Appelle Valley and area. We will organize as an independent non-profit, community-based organization not dependent upon government or corporate funding. We will initiate research and educational activities and help to facilitate an Action Plan that can bring positive change to the valley. We will form Working Groups of concerned residents to tackle pressing matters like marsh protection.
We are committed to building positive relations among indigenous and settler communities to help preserve our common home. Respecting treaty and indigenous rights can nourish the protection of the Qu’Appelle Valley. We will help build a network of concerned people throughout the Valley. We will locate “community liaisons” wherever possible. We will focus on the protection of the Qu’Appelle Valley watershed and the upgrading of land-use planning and regulation so that landscape, marshes and habitats are given the respect they deserve.
Federal, provincial and municipal roles should be enhanced to better protect the valley. However, governments must not displace their responsibilities or act as “pawns” for interests that do not put the sustainability of the Valley first. Ultimately all levels of government must collaborate with a positive, proactive and enforceable vision if the Qu’Appelle Valley is to be protected for future generations.
The Qu’Appelle Valley is not here just for the use of humans; we all must shift our values to respecting our interdependence with all creatures that share the Valley home. If some of us don’t act now the slide towards degradation will surely continue.
We ask you to join us in this essential and worthy venture.
PHOTO: Echo Lake
1. To undertake integrated environmental research and evidence-based public education and organize Working Groups of concerned citizens to enhance ecological protection in the Qu’Appelle Valley;
2. To help organize an environmental network of communications and support that reaches into all parts of the Qu’Appelle Valley and area;
3. To encourage and facilitate respectful communications, cross-cultural understanding and co-operation among Indigenous and settler communities to address common environmental challenges in the Qu’Appelle Valley;
4. To undertake public policy advocacy and interventions to achieve enhanced inter-governmental co-operation and protection of the watershed, including lake shores, marshes, flood plains, river banks, bird, fish and wildlife habitats and overall water quality in the Qu’Appelle Valley;
5. To work to ensure that municipal and regional land use planning mandates are enhanced and effectively implemented and evaluated to better protect the valley landscape, hillsides and habitats within the Qu’Appelle Valley area;
6. To collaborate with naturalist, health, heritage, arts and other groups to accelerate the transition to a local and regional economy that is sustainable: one which doesn’t degrade the natural beauty and functioning of land and water eco-systems within the Qu’Appelle Valley area;
7. To promote a shift in human values so that the integrity of the natural systems and all the “ecological services” they provide, and all the creatures that co-habit the Qu’Appelle Valley, obtain the respect they deserve.
To see a community-based inter-governmental oversight authority established to protect the Qu’Appelle Valley; To see a chemical-free buffer zone established along the Qu’Appelle Valley wall to help protect the watershed; To help establish practical economic alternatives to urban, agricultural and industrial activities which presently threaten the landscape, habitats and watershed of the Qu’Appelle Valley.
*Earlier version approved at Feb. 10, 2016 founding public meeting and reported in Fort Times Feb. 19, 2016; revised December 14, 2016 to finalize application for Non-Profit status.
PHOTO: Echo Lake
Approved at April 7, 2018 Annual General Meeting
The QVEA will pursue the 7 objectives and goals previously agreed to and listed under Objectives. (See Objectives at: QVCA.CA)
i) Membership will be open to anyone living in the Qu’Appelle Valley and watershed who supports and is willing to help achieve the QVEA Objectives;
ii) Fees will be set by the AGM (They are $10 for 2018-19);
iii) The QVEA will have regular meetings with voting rights (See 4 below).
iv) There will also be Honourary members who do not have to live in the Qu’Appelle Valley, who will not have voting rights.
i) The QVEA will have a Board of from 3 to 5 Directors;
ii) Directors will be elected at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) of members;
iii) Each Director will oversee at least one of: chairing or co-chairing, networking, secretariat, finances, communications, coordinator of working groups and any other areas established by the Board and at AGMs;
iv) To prevent conflict of interest and ensure the independence of the QVEA, Directors must be fully independent from any government-appointed or corporate-appointed bodies;
v) The QVEA will hold Board meetings as required to maintain the activities of the organization.
4. Operationsi) The QVEA will establish Working Groups on vital environmental protection areas such as Marsh Protection, Watershed Health, Flood Management, Pesticide Contamination, etc.;
ii) The QVEA will hold monthly public meetings where issues and projects can be discussed and pursued.
i) To ensure its independence the QVEA will not take any donations from political parties, government or their agencies or private and/or extraction corporations;
ii) It will accept donations from individuals or non-partisan, no-strings-attached groups, including individuals, businesses and/or organizations that want to protect the Valley and watershed;
iii) Funders will not receive any promotion at QVEA events or in any publications or publicity.
If the QVEA is ever dissolved its assets should be delivered to the non-governmental and non-government and non-corporate funded environmental-watershed organization in Saskatchewan with objectives closest to the QVEA.
PHOTO: Pelican on Qu'Appelle River