RCE Saskatchewan - 2018


Province of Saskatchewan: Quill Lakes Basin, Qu'Appelle River System
3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina S4S 0A2
RCE Saskatchewan Empowering For Conservation:Water Drainage and Wetland Protection on the Canadian Prairies
Basic Information
Title of project : 
RCE Saskatchewan Empowering For Conservation:Water Drainage and Wetland Protection on the Canadian Prairies
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Saskatchewan
Contributing organization(s) : 
Luther College at the University of Regina
Calling Lakes Ecomuseum
Saskatchewan Alliance for Water Sustainability
Last Mountain Lake Stewardship Group
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Roger Petry
Organizational Affiliation: 
Associate Professor of Philosophy at Luther College at the University of Regina and Co- coordinator, RCE Saskatchewan
Aura Lee MacPherson
Organizational Affiliation: 
Chair of Saskatchewan Alliance for Water Sustainability
Sherry Forsyth
Organizational Affiliation: 
Chair of the Last Mountain Lake Stewardship Group
Format of project: 
Power point
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Saskatchewan Environmental Assessment Act
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Saskatchewan Water Security Agency Act
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Related SDG 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Luther College University of Regina
3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina
Saskatchewan, Canada
S4S 0A2
Target Audience:
Goverment Policy makers
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The Quill Lakes are saline due to their being no natural outlet in the Quill Lakes Basin. Climate change and wetland drainage for agricultural proposes has led to the growth in the height of the Quill Lakes and flooding of farmers downstream. The attempt to drain water from the Quill Lake Basin into the Qu'Appelle River System without an Environmental Assessment has caused concern. The Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife area and Migratory Bird Sanctuary as well as Pasqua First Nations hunting and fishing grounds are at the point of the proposed entry of the drained water.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
The proposed drainage from one watershed to another without an environmental assessment is of significant concern given the greater salt and total dissolved solids (TDS) of the water transferring from the Quill Lakes basin into the Qu'Appelle River system. This has potentially significant adverse impacts on fish and other wildlife and general water quality, in turn, affecting recreational and hunting and fishing uses of the Last Mountain Lake, including the relevant Treaty Rights of First Nations peoples. At the same time, a lack of enforcement of laws pertaining to wetland drainage by farmers has been a major contributing factor with Saskatchewan experiencing a very large wetland loss. Closing illegal drainage in the Quill Lakes Basin would stop 38% of the water flow into the Quill Lakes and would be more appropriate solution to the current problem. There is a need to examine alternative water storage, management and uses (vs drainage) in the area which could be facilitated through education and a roundtable.
June, 2017
Currently the Government of Saskatchewan has not been open to an Environmental Assessment of its proposed drainage solutions despite potentially significant environmental issues and social and economic impacts. It has also limited its focus to only drainage solutions versus other potentially more optimal ways of addressing the problem (including closing illegal drainage, restoring wetlands, and storing water for other agricultural and other uses - especially in a period of change projected lower rainfall during summer growing season.
A primary goal involves public education to make the public aware of the current proposed drainage solution and the lack of an environmental assessment as well as the current impacts of illegal drainage, especially on wetlands. A second goal is to help inform political leaders and policy officials of the need to consider boarder issues of sustainability and explore a range of possible solutions to the current situation to choose the most optimal solution. Embedded in these two goals, is the objective to seek optimal solutions for long term sustainability for the Province of Saskatchewan.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
We held weekly meetings starting October 2017 to discuss strategy. We developed an awareness program for all stakeholders in the Qu’Appelle River system. We began a communication strategy asking government officials for Round Table discussion. We organized a pipe Ceremony November 2017; registered “Save Last Mtn/Qu’Appelle Lakes Inc.“ as a charitable organization; presented a petition to provincial legislature December 2017; presented a federal petition April 2018; sent letters/emails to Quill Lake Watershed Association, Water Security Association, Minister of Environment, Premier of Saskatchewan, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Minister of Public Safety and Canadian Wildlife Service, created Facebook page www.facebook.com/Qu'appelleValleySK; created a web page www.lmlsg.ca/saws/; hosted three community meetings in the communities of Qu’Appelle River system; presented at resort village council meetings and participated in community parades; attended the Treaty Four Gathering Pow Wow; hosted the Elders tent at the Treaty Four gathering; held media interviews; requested the Freedom of Information documents from WSA and QLWA files
Size of academic audience: 
The size of our audience is a result of our web page, our social media present and our relationship of meeting people one to one. We estimate our audience of more than 10,000.
We obtained the FOI which demonstrated the divisive approach our government had taken to solve the Quill Lakes Flooding issue. This information was shared thru the media and resulted in the Quill Lakes Watershed withdrawing their proposal to build a diversion channel.
We have been unable to convince the provincial government that a Round Table Forum should be created to ensure a sustainable solution to this issue is found.
We have been successful at building relationships with the Universities, First Nations and the downstream neighbors. The education pieces we produced as well as meeting people one on one are the reason for this success.
The 2018 Provincial Auditor's Report (Volume 1, Chapter 12), reports that Water Security Agency has not done their due diligence in bringing unapproved drainage works into compliance. The risk of the Quill Lakes polluting the Qu’Appelle is still very real due to illegal drainage.

Lessons learned: 
1. Community residents are genuinely concerned about the safety of water resources and our obligation to preserve natural resources for future generations.
2. Openness and transparency between policy makers and stakeholders is imperative to foster confidence and cooperation between parties. Our governments have not adapted to how communities and nations can self-educate on environmental issues.
3. Multiple stakeholders with interests in the issue and long-term sustainability need to be contacted and mobilized. Please see in additonal resource photos of the Treaty Four Pow Wow. This project brought together the University of Regina and Treaty Four Pow Wow. The educational teepee on water in the Qu'Appelle Valley had 9000 students attend.
4. There is a shift that communities can find trust and confidence from our scholars and science experts, not from our government. Please see photos of the Treaty Four Parade.
Key messages: 
October 2017 the Provincial government removed an Environmental Assessment to move polluted waters from the Quill Lake Basin into the fresh waters of the Qu’Appelle River System. Stakeholders were not involved and lost their democratic voice in the process. Collaborating with the RCE inspired communities and nations to do better.
This project is supported by volunteerism. We did secure a donation of $5000 that has helped to pay a few bills.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon IMG_0061.jpg (1.14 MB) learning how to create a communication bridge - SAWS participated in the Treaty Four Pow Wow Parade Doug Farenick
Image icon Quill Lakes photo of Mid Summer Festival.JPG (751.79 KB) learning how to build a communication bridge and connect with the community at the Mid Summer Arts Festival A.MacPherson
Image icon IMG_4573.JPG (1.44 MB) learning to do a Round Dance for the Water A.MacPherson
Image icon DSCN0079 (2).JPG (2.07 MB) learning why illegal removal of wetlands are still happening fall 2018 in the Quill Lakes basin A. MacPherson
Image icon Quill Lakes Photo Regina Beach July 2018.jpg (1.2 MB) learning what Regina Beach citizens know about the Quill Lakes Flooding issue. Sherry Forsyth
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all 
SDG 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Disaster Risk Reduction 
Traditional Knowledge  
Plants & Animals 
Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development – Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level