Foundations in the Lake Winnipeg Watershed Initiative

H2O – Ideas and Action for Canada’s Water is a blog that has developed as part of the Foundations in the Lake Winnipeg Watershed Initiative (LWWI) which is a project of Community Foundations of Canada.

The LWWI came about several years ago as a result of a group of community foundations who were meeting to discuss environmental initiatives. At that meeting they began to consider the idea that foundations could have a greater impact if they could think “like a watershed” – we’re all upstream of someone else and water connects us regardless of political boundaries. The Foundations in the LWWI was born from that concept and the position of Coordinator was created through the combined contributions of several foundations.

The primary goal of the LWWI was to increase public awareness of the crisis facing the Lake Winnipeg Watershed by identifying how foundations could most effectively contribute to this common goal. Specifically, the aim is to  mobilize foundations – community and private – across Western Canada to individual and collective action to raise public awareness of the crisis in the Lake Winnipeg Watershed and to fund and support initiatives that will have a positive impact on the long-term quality of the Lake Winnipeg Watershed.  I was hired as the coordinator in the spring of 2008.

Algae blooms in the Lake Winnipeg Watershed

Toxic algae blooms pictured in CFC’s draft strategy paper “Thinking Like a Watershed”

One of the most significant learnings of the project to date is that the problems facing Lake Winnipeg (toxic blue green algae blooms) are being experienced by many water bodies across the Prairies and throughout many other areas in Canada. The concerns about the increasing degradation of water and the threat of inadequate supplies of water are not unique to the Prairies. These are growing concerns throughout Canada and elsewhere in the world.

Many of the factors that are contributing to these problems are man made and the good news about that is that we can change those man made actions towards water. We have significant knowledge about what is causing the problems and how to fix them [PDF link].

Now we have to put those solutions into practice by educating and motivating ourselves to act! We want to share some of the lessons learned from the LWWI with others across Canada who are interested in ideas and action about water.

Click here for a list of the Foundations involved in supporting the LWWI and related initiatives.

Since the spring of 2011, I was working on a contract for the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, The Winnipeg Foundation and the Thomas Sill Foundation, aimed at assessing the gaps and needs in leadership and coordination in Lake Winnipeg restoration work. We hope within a few months to have finalized that and possibly create a collaborative model that will help to fill those needs.

Recently, I have completed a contract with the Lake Winnipeg Foundation as their Outreach Coordinator to help expand public awareness and engagement with water issues as well as working on encouraging collaborative actions amongst NGOs in Manitoba.
I am now working on the Save Lake Winnipeg Project whose purpose is to promote actions that will protect and heal Lake Winnipeg and other lakes across Canada.

Vicki Burns 


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