April 22 marks International Mother Earth Day, a time to reflect on what we can all do to honour and protect the environment we all share.
At the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), the health of the Earth and the environment is a responsibility we take seriously. Protecting water, people and the environment is at the core of everything we do, and it is woven into the fabric of our work. Our organization’s mandate is to safely manage Canada’s used nuclear fuel inside a deep geological repository for millennia.
“International Mother Earth Day serves as a reminder to us all to be responsible stewards of the environment. It is our duty to protect Mother Earth – and to the generations that will follow us on this planet,” said Joanne Jacyk, Environment Program Manager at the NWMO.
She added that we have been working closely with community members, Elders, Traditional Knowledge Keepers, scientists, conservation authorities, industry professionals, youth and more, who have told us that access to and preservation of Mother Earth is incredibly important and top of mind.
“We have taken this advice, and in every phase of the project, we strive to ensure we are protecting Mother Earth by interweaving Indigenous Knowledge and western science and working together with communities on various programs to protect the environment,” said Ms. Jacyk.
The organization’s commitment to responsible stewardship is embodied, for example, in environmental monitoring programs in both siting areas under consideration for the project – the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area in northwestern Ontario and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce area in southern Ontario. The goal of this work is to establish the baseline conditions surrounding the potential repository sites and to deepen knowledge and understanding of the local environment so that we can ensure we are best prepared to protect it today and for the long term.
A few of these programs include:
- Research partnerships with respected institutions like the Toronto Zoo and University of Guelph;
- Evaluation of baseline conditions in private well drinking water sources to better understand water quality;
- Biodiversity studies that will bring a deeper understanding of ecosystems in the Saugeen watershed, supporting broader environmental protection efforts across the region; and
- Community-based sampling programs that look at topics such as the chemical composition of plants and animals using donations from community members from their hunting, fishing and foraging activities.
“Caring for the Earth means caring for the environment and water resources we share. Water is a life force that sustains us – and we have a responsibility to respect, protect and nurture it,” said Ms. Jacyk. “That means understanding water, its quality and its memory, so we can make good decisions as we do our work.”
Happy International Mother Earth Day, everyone!
About the NWMO
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is a not-for-profit organization tasked with the safe, long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel inside a deep geological repository, in a manner that protects people and the environment for generations to come.
Founded in 2002, the NWMO has been guided for 20 years by a dedicated team of world-class scientists, engineers and Indigenous Knowledge Keepers that are developing innovative and collaborative solutions for nuclear waste management. Canada’s plan will only proceed in an area with informed and willing hosts, where the municipality, First Nation and Métis communities, and others in the area are working together to implement it. The NWMO plans to select a site in 2023, and two areas remain in our site selection process: the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area in northwestern Ontario and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce area in southern Ontario.