Dr. Chris Metcalfe
Professor, Environmental & Resource Studies
Director, Institute for Watershed Science
Trent University

Professor Metcalfe shared with the audience his experiences working on international projects on integrated watershed management in Mexico and Ecuador. He spoke of the “necessity for community empowerment” in working to protect the world’s water, one community at a time.

Henry Lickers
Environmental Science Officer and Former Director
Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, Department of the Environment

Henry Lickers, a member of the Seneca Nation, Turtle Clan, and a Trent alumnus, told the group about the British in the 1800s offering money to the First Nations to try to compensate for the effects of regulating the water flow on the St. Lawrence. He also explained the role of the Mohawk Council in protecting water sources and monitoring the effects from industries located along the St. Lawrence River. Talking about what we all need to do to make a difference, Mr. Lickers said, “When we learn to respect and communicate with each other, we gain equity and we empower ourselves to find the courage to carry out what needs to be done.”

Dr. Brent Wootton
Director and Senior Scientist
Centre for Alternative Wastewater Treatment (CAWT), Fleming College, Lindsay

Dr. Wootton, who received his Ph.D. in aquatic ecology from Trent, discussed the need for innovation around water and alternative wastewater treatment facilities. He also spoke about applied research in the water and wastewater cleantech sector. His main commentary focused on how Canada typically scores low on innovation indices in comparison to other OECD countries and that our country has relied too much on resource extraction and exports. Dr. Wootton explained that the main barrier to success is our inherent inability to embrace complexity – to be a leader in environmental sustainability and other areas of importance, we need to address the complexity of the challenges facing us. “We tend to oversimplify problems and find simple solutions," he said. “The future will belong to those who find a way to embrace the complexity of the challenges that face us. The only solution is to get outside the box and say no when the box doesn’t work.”

Shirley Williams
Aboriginal Elder and Professor Emeritus of Indigenous Studies
Trent University

In speaking about the traditional role of Anishinabek women to safeguard the water, Professor Emeritus Shirley Williams argued for the need to include spirituality in science. “Everything has a spirit – from the trees to the plants and to the water,” she said.