Water is a great teacher and the NWMO is dedicated to protecting it

A tobacco offering

A tobacco offering on the shore of Lake Huron, in the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, was used as part of an Indigenous ceremony during the 2021 Environmental Review Group meeting. (Photo credit: Jessica Perritt)

At the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), protecting water is at the core of what we do and a connection we share with Canadians and Indigenous peoples because we all have a personal relationship with water.

In fact, the entire purpose of Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel – the reason we are investing time, effort, and money to implement it – is to protect water, people and the environment.

Across the organization we constantly strive to understand water, its quality, its memory, and where it’s flowing so that we can make good decisions as we go about our work.

We do so by drawing from two knowledge systems – Western Science and Indigenous Knowledge – so that we are continuously learning and applying these teachings on how water sustains us and the significant cultural importance of water to Indigenous peoples.

Many people at the NWMO and beyond, including the Council of Elders and Youth, Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, Elders, scientists, conservation authorities, industry professionals, community members, youth and others have told us that water protection is important and the NWMO should prioritize this.

To mark World Water Day and Canada Water Week this year, the NWMO delivered a Water Protection: A Shared Priority Webinar that explored the journey of water, drawing on both knowledge systems.

We also asked two water stewards what water means to them to better understand the importance of water protection to their work.

What Water Means to Jessica Perritt

For Jessica Perritt, Section Manager of Indigenous Knowledge and Reconciliation at the NWMO, her passion for water protection comes from the sacred relationship she and other Indigenous women have with water as water carriers and life givers.

“I first think of water as its ability to give life and what it reminds me of is when I was pregnant with my first child – feeling the first flutter in my tummy of awe and amazement – the power and the miracle that I was privileged to be experiencing — all because of that water and that life being created inside of me," said Jessica. "Because of that special gift water gives us, I am wholeheartedly committed to protecting it."

What Water Means to Joanne Jacyk

Joanne Jacyk, Manager, Environment Program has been involved in water protection work since she joined the NWMO more than a decade ago. For her, water means connections.

“We can only protect water if we understand it and understand people’s relationship with it,” she says. “The environment is vast and ever-changing, and the information we collect on water will help us understand what it means and how it is connected.”

Stay up-to-date on our water protection activities by visiting www.nwmo.ca/water.

Happy Canada Water Week, everyone!