Media releases

  • Brock and WWF-Canada address freshwater challenges amid ‘threat multiplier’ COVID-19

    MEDIA RELEASE: 26 June 2020 – R0107

    The COVID-19 pandemic may not be causing freshwater challenges, but it’s certainly compounding the problems.

    Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) and World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada) have launched the Partnership for Freshwater Resilience.

    Unable to host an in-person event due to COVID-19 restrictions, Brock and WWF-Canada officially launched the partnership with a Future of Freshwater virtual panel discussion Thursday, June 25 with more than 75 people across the country tuning in.

    The panelists from both Brock and WWF-Canada agreed that the pandemic was adding complications to the challenges associated with fresh water in this country.

    “The threats, impacts and issues we were addressing have been multiplied by COVID-19,” said Elizabeth Hendriks, Vice-President of Freshwater Conservation at WWF-Canada. “For Indigenous and other communities that didn’t have access to clean water prior to COVID, this means they are faced with an even higher risk impacting their families, infrastructure, health care and well-being.

    “With our emergency and municipal services already strained, it feels like the COVID-19 prevention measures are putting even more strain on our already vulnerable people, and all our communities.”

    Assistant Professor in Brock’s ESRC and the Department of Geography and Tourism, Julia Baird, Canada Research Chair in Human Dimensions of Water Resources and Water Resilience, said the crisis is bringing greater attention to inequities in access to clean water around the world.

    “This increase in attention creates an opportunity for us as researchers and practitioners to bring a systems perspective and highlight the critical importance of things such as source water protection and a watershed/basin perspective,” she said. “As a scholar, it provides a way to engage more deeply with issues of mutual interest, do really solid research and contribute to scholarship on water governance, while also engaging in shared work that has immediate impact on the ground.”

    Signed in 2019, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Brock and WWF-Canada solidifies an ongoing partnership between the two organizations, said Brock Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon.

    “We are particularly pleased that Brock and World Wildlife Fund Canada are working together on a line of inquiry that is crucial to us all,” he said. “We need to be focused on the threats and impacts of climate change on freshwater. This partnership provides a foundation for new collaborative ventures and transdisciplinary research.”

    Megan Leslie, President/CEO of WWF-Canada added that she is “excited we can finally share the news of what Brock University and WWF-Canada are doing together.”

    “Canada is home to 20 per cent of the world’s freshwater, and with such abundance comes great responsibility to protect those waters. That goal has never been more important than right now,” said Leslie, who served as head of ocean conservation for the organization before taking on the leadership role in 2017.

    The partnership will initially focus on the Saint John River in eastern Canada, using it as a research subject for Brock faculty and students with the goal of improving how communities along its banks handle the impacts of increased flooding as a result of climate change.

    “One thing we’ve already learned is that nobody has a clear idea of who is doing what and where it relates to climate change, particularly the impacts of flooding along the river,” said Simon Mitchell, WWF-Canada Lead Specialist, Freshwater. “We’re developing a climate knowledge network survey, which will allow us to share experiences, develop common messaging, and better implement actions.”

    The initial focus and national scope of the partnership will help to shape the future of water in Canada.

    “This innovative partnership facilitates collaboration with one of Canada’s largest and most recognizable conservation organizations,” said Ryan Plummer, Professor and Director of the ESRC. “By working together, I am confident that we will advance science, policy and practice using the lens of water resilience.”


    For more information or assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

    * Alexandra del Castello, WWF-Canada Associate Specialist, Communications, or 647-246-6996

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Students around the globe experience Brock’s Virtual Convocation

    MEDIA RELEASE: 19 June 2020 – R0106

    During a normal Spring Convocation, it would take three days for half of Brock University’s graduating students to cross the stage and have their degrees conferred.

    But on the first day that Brock’s Virtual Spring Convocation portal opened Friday, June 19, it took just over three hours.

    Thousands of students viewed their personalized Convocation portal, logging in from nearly every province and territory across the country and 41 countries around the world.

    It certainly isn’t the traditional Convocation experience, with family and friends gathered in Ian Beddis Gymnasium to witness the pomp and circumstance of Convocation, but amid the restrictions of COVID-19, the Virtual experience is meant to celebrate students until an in-person gathering can be held in the future. Rather than a single-day event, the Virtual Convocation portal will remain online for students and their families to access and watch whenever they choose.

    It’s personalized based on their Faculty and if they’re graduating with an undergrad or graduate degree, and includes fun animated elements such as the ‘Throw virtual confetti’ button, a nod to Brock’s tradition of graduating students throwing the bag of confetti first given to them when they were admitted to the University.

    “Today’s Convocation represents your success,” Brock President Gervan Fearon said in his address to students. “As you move through your career and your life, you’ll always know that your Brock University experience and the strengths you have developed here, makes it possible to achieve your dreams and aspirations, even in the face of unanticipated developments.”

    “The Class of 2020, wherever you go, whatever you do in the future, you are always part of the Brock family,” Fearon said. “I have been honoured to meet many of you, and I look forward to seeing and meeting you in the future, but now as alumni of Brock University.”

    Delivering the Convocation keynote address was former Prime Minister the Right Honorable Paul Martin, one of five Honorary Doctorate recipients recognized by the University Friday.

    Martin said when was first invited to address graduands at Convocation, he planned to speak to the need to advance co-operation between nations. But since then, something more pressing demanded his — and the world’s ­— attention.

    “It is now self-evident that the game has changed,” said Martin, Canada’s Prime Minister from 2003 to 2006. “We’re dealing with forces that have challenged all of humanity. These forces are climate change and pandemic disease.”

    The time is now, he said, that graduands must lead, noting that many are already on the frontlines of tackling climate change.

    He added that previous cohorts of graduating classes — for example, those who graduated in the mid-1940s — faced shaky economics and worked to create a new world and build some of the most prominent global institutions, such as the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), “all of which made the world a safer place to be and gave us the longest period of economic growth and peace in modern history.”

    “They did that in their time,” he said. “This is your time. And I know you are up for it. You are the next generation of leaders, of doers, of thinkers. And you’ve been educated in one of Canada’s great universities.”

    While the battles of the past have been of military forces, economic prowess and global dominance, Martin said graduands must prepare to fight climate change, pandemic disease and the future of humanity.

    “I believe you are our best chance to win the battles that lie ahead,” he said, adding that it is only made possible by working collaboratively and thinking globally.

    “You and your generation here in Canada and all over the world must rise to the great challenges that lie ahead,” said Martin. “These are your challenges, and I know you’re up for them. As you leave university, I know that you will exemplify Brock’s motto: Push on. Push on to a better future. Push on to a better world. With that, I would like to congratulate you all today and I would like to thank you for what you will do tomorrow.”

    In addition to his remarks, students and their families were invited to watch addresses from political and academic leaders, student colleagues, the other honorary degree recipients, and importantly, Chancellor Shirley Cheechoo, whose role includes the official conferring of the degrees for the nearly 3,000 graduating students.

    Among the teaching and student awards handed out Friday were the Governor General’s Gold Medal, given out at each Spring Convocation to a graduate student with the highest academic average over all courses in their program.

    However, since identical twins, Simon and Benjamin Earp-Lynch, of St. Catharines, finished their Faculty of Math and Science master’s degrees with identical 98 per cent averages, the University had to make a special request to the Governor General’s office to award two Gold Medal awards. It marks the first time the award it has been given to multiple recipients at Brock.


    Note: While Brock’s Virtual Spring Convocation portal opened to students and their friends and family on Friday, the wider community will have access to it starting Monday, and it will remain online for everyone to experience at their own leisure.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University 905-347-1970 

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    Categories: Media releases