Skip to content
Water First logo

Winter 2023

Home / Winter 2023

Winter 2023

  • 6 min read

Quarterly Newsletter

Winter 2023

The latest news and updates on our programs.


From Connection to Community – My Path to Water First

Sometimes, the most rewarding relationships emerge from unexpected connections. Take this story from Jacey Bonertz, a Technical Trainer & Project Coordinator with Water First. Jacey talks about how a connection with an Indigenous-owned business led her to work with Water First, and how she’s able to do meaningful work that gives back. And it all started with a chance encounter on Instagram.

“The story of my path to Water First highlights how good things happen when you support people doing meaningful work in the world.”

Celebrating International Day of Education

January 24, 2023 was the fifth annual UNESCO International Day of Education. This year’s theme was “to invest in people, prioritize education.” Education is the cornerstone of all Water First programs. To acknowledge this important day, we shared a few words from our staff about what education means to them. Hear their thoughts – and get a glimpse of their not-so-serious sides! – in the video here.

Drinking Water Interns share their experience at the #MuchMoreThanWater virtual event

Last November, Water First hosted a virtual event to give attendees the chance to learn more about the Drinking Water Internship and how it has grown over the years. The theme of the event was #MuchMoreThanWater, which highlights the fact that Water First programs start with water, but they lead to so much more.

The event was hosted by Krysta Wordock, a Technical Trainer & Project Coordinator with Water First, and featured Kendra Driscoll, our Internship Development Manager. But the true stars of the show were Austin (a current intern with the North Shore Tribal Council program) and Bella (a recent internship graduate). Austin and Bella shared their experiences during and after the internship, and what the program meant to them. It was an inspirational and uplifting event.

Didn’t get to attend the event live? You can watch a condensed 20-minute video of the highlights here, or watch a recording of the full event here!

“Every single thing that we did was somehow wrapped into our culture. We always had a welcoming ceremony for each prep course. When we got together it was always very traditional, talking about our ways, the ways of the land. Building that group together for 15 months was an incredible experience.”

“I feel really grateful to be part of this Internship Program, and the knowledge that has been shared with me, the vibes that I get from it, the people that I meet – I cannot express it enough. It’s been amazing, and it’s given me a new outlook on everything, especially with water.”

Photo of a lake with low hanging clouds and mountains in the distance.

Water First Schools Program makes their first trip to the west coast

Our Schools Program team recently made their first trip to the west coast to deliver water science workshops for two communities, at Boston Bar School and Xwemelch’stn School. The trip flew by, but we’re already planning to return to British Columbia in May for more school programs. We’re looking forward to working with students who will spend time learning about the local watershed, participating in outdoor activities, and testing different field equipment for themselves.⁠

Putting the spotlight on land-based education on APTN

Dillon Koopmans, Water First’s Senior Manager of Indigenous School Engagement, was recently interviewed by Darrell Stranger, host of InFocus on APTN News, for a segment highlighting the importance of land-based (and water-based!) education.

“There’s no comparison to learning on the land and from the land. There are certain things that just can’t be taught in a classroom.”

Exploring water science concepts in Kenora, Ontario

Water First’s Schools Program recently completed a week-long workshop in Kenora, Ontario, where we visited Gaagagekiizhik School to deliver water science lessons to students from kindergarten all the way up to high school.

The students got to spend their time outdoors and in the classroom, completing activities designed to give them a deeper understanding of key water science concepts. The trip also featured a number of special moments and integrated important cultural components.

It was an incredible week of learning. Students had fun and went home every day with a greater understanding of how their watershed works.

Nadia George, an actor, activist and Water First ambassador, joined the team in Kenora to experience the workshop first hand. Nadia got to engage with the students and spend time with the Water First team during the trip. 

“I will forever be grateful for these moments as they will continue to inform my path as an advocate for environmental justice and clean water equity,” said Nadia. Check out some of her photos from the trip in this post on Instagram.

Coming soon: Paige

Paige, a new short film from Water First and Untold Storytelling, follows the story of Paige Manitowabi, a Water Walker from Manitoulin Island. Paige learned Traditional Knowledge and teachings from her mother and coupled this with training in western science. Since graduating from the Water First Drinking Water Internship in 2018, she has used this knowledge to inspire Indigenous youth to be water protectors.

Watch a preview of the film here.

Add impact to your inbox

Water plant operator in the office