Ways of Knowing

29th Annual River Symposium | October 26th & 27th 2022

This FREE event will take place both online and in-person in Cornwall, ON, Canada.

For the past 29 years, the River Symposium has provided a platform for researchers, educators, policy-makers, community leaders and citizens to discuss the current ecological health of our freshwater ecosystems and explore issues and challenges facing large rivers and their watersheds. This sharing of knowledge is powerful as it leads to a better understanding of freshwater resources and ecosystems, as well as the development of strategies for renewal and protection.


Wednesday, October 26th


Thursday, October 27th

Ways of Knowing

The 2022 theme is ‘Ways of Knowing’. Through presentations and discussions, we look forward to the perspectives and inspiration of a variety of voices, including those of Indigenous knowledge holders, artists, scientists, and community members.

In keeping with the ‘Ways of Knowing’ theme, the two-day symposium will bring together Science and Community in a unified format that covers a range of topics and acknowledges all ways of knowing.

Last year, our hybrid presentation format attracted over 1200 views, and we look forward to a similar approach this year. To encourage participation and access for everyone, we plan to host an in-person day on October 26 at the Ramada Inn (Cornwall, On), which will also be live streamed to virtual audiences and a virtual day on October 27.

Plenary Talks

Ways of Knowing- “Different Strokes for Different Folks”

Henry Lickers– Canadian Commissioner, International Joint Commission

As Mohammad Ali once said “different strokes for different folks.” People of the world view the world using different methods, and express what they see in different languages, music and sciences. Ancient cultures such as the Arabic and Maya Peoples developed mathematics with a concept of “zero” and negative numbers, unheard of in the European countries. Japanese and other oriental countries use a pentatonic scale that sounds strange to the western ear; with its 5 notes per octave, as opposed to the “normal” or heptatonic scale with 7 notes per octave. Indigenous peoples of North America developed governance systems based on responsibilities, instead of rights and laws. While these practices may seem strange to a different culture, to the practitioner, it is perfectly normal. In the past, anything different was viewed as suspect and wrong, and therefore not tolerated. ‘On both sides’ was the edict for progress. Knowledge, music and ceremonies were co-opted by the dominant society, but the old ways still exist. As the world culture has matured there is now room for different ways and people are finding beauty in traditional craft, different music and science or ways of knowing. Ali was right, “different strokes for different folks.”

Becoming an ‘Amateur’: Love as a Route to Knowledge as we Learn with the St. Lawrence

Dr. Kathleen Vaughan– Professor of Art Education and Concordia University Research Chair in Art + Education for Sustainable Futures

This illustrated presentation explores the potential for love to help generate valuable knowledge about how we might live well and justly with our St. Lawrence River. Love can be both motivator and method, giving us strength and willingness to work across hesitations and discomforts of disciplinary and political divides.

Speaking with reference to her own and her collaborators’ artworks and stories about the St. Lawrence River, Kathleen suggests that artistic knowledge can embody creative solutions that help make a difference to the world’s ‘wicked’ and seeming irresolvable problems of climate catastrophe, pollution, habitat loss, and massive species extinctions. Art simultaneously values multiple conflicting realities within a single, resolved creative work and also models inclusive approaches to complexity and paradox. But art is best accompanied by scientific knowledge and expertise, community-based lived experience of places and their needs, artistic knowledge and land-based knowledge – itself rooted in Indigenous epistemologies and centred in practices of respect, reciprocity, deep listening, and love.

Kathleen proposes that we all strive to work as best we can across modes of knowing as ‘amateurs,’ meaning both non-professionals and also those who love, and that we do so fiercely. Scottish naturalist Nan Shepherd reminded us that “love pursued with fervour is one of the roads to knowledge.” She wrote those words about her lifelong relationship with her beloved Cairngorm Mountains; this presentation focusses on love for the St. Lawrence River as a catalyst to essential knowledge about how we can better serve the River and its creatures.

Beautiful Teachings of Nikentsiá:ke

Jessica L. Jock– Remediation and Restoration Program Manager,
Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Environment Division

To capture the complete story of a river is near impossible. The roaring of the rapids, the cracking of the winter sheets of ice, the whisper of the upstream “tide”, the elusive freshwater mussels (unionids), and the splash of big fish jumping were observations that kept my scientific curiosity alive. However, the passion was fueled by knowing I was working on an important place for the Mohawks of Akwesasne reserved in the 1796 Treaty. After 2-decades of science, research, policy, interacting with community members, and the privilege of hearing individuals from Akwesasne share their traditional teachings with me, I’ll recount some of the teachings of the river; Nikentsiá:ke (in Mohawk language means ‘full of big fishes’; and refers to the Grasse River and Massena Village).

Learning from Under the Surface

Jérôme Marty (top)- Executive Director, International Association of Great Lakes Research (IAGLR)

Jean-Louis Courteau (bottom)- Experienced diver and accomplished painter

So much can be learnt by looking under the surface of lakes, not only about their status and health today, but also about their pasts. About a decade ago, Jean-Louis Courteau, an experienced diver and accomplished painter, arrived at the door of the St Lawrence River Institute to share a sample of a new invasive species that he had found in the St Lawrence River. There, he met research scientist Jérôme Marty. The two have been friends ever since and have continued to share their discoveries from the Laurentian Lakes. This presentation will highlight some of these discoveries, which have been made possible by combining diving, archeology, and limnology; shared through multiple media, including art.

A BIG thank you to our sponsors for making this event possible.

Event Partners & Sponsors

Organizing Committee

Georgia Bock


Emilie DeRochie


Christina Collard

Lexy Harquail

Stephany Hildebrand

Courtney Holden

Jennifer Jarvis

Elsie Lewison

Leigh McGaughey

Mary Ann Perron

Mackenzie Wylie-Arbic

Zach Zwanenburg

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