As fall colors emerged, Commissioners and board members met in Ottawa, Ontario, for the IJC’s Semi-Annual Meeting.
The week-long event in late October was the final one for IJC Canadian Co-Chair Pierre Béland, appointed in 2019. United States Co-Chair Gerald “Jerry” Acker attended for the first time since his appointment in July 2023. The Canadian and United States governments are expected to name other new Commissioners soon.
US Commissioner Rob Sisson said of Béland: “Pierre has been an exceptional leader, mentor and friend. His unwavering passion for science and discovery and his commitment to science-based decision making have left a mark on our team that will continue to guide the Commission going forward.”
From left to right: Commissioners Rob Sisson, Henry Lickers, Gerald Acker, Pierre Béland, Lance Yohe and Merrell-Ann Phare.
Semi-Annual Meetings alternate between the capital cities of Ottawa, Ontario, and Washington, D.C. They are a time for IJC Commissioners, staff and numerous boards to meet face-to-face to discuss ongoing and emerging issues, projects and progress.
It has been another busy year of extremes in shared waters from coast to coast. Communities have felt the impacts of record-setting wildfires and abnormally dry conditions across the transboundary region, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. At the other extreme, there has been intense rainfall and severe flooding, notably in the northeastern provinces and states.
“IJC boards have, as always, been diligently responding to changes in environmental conditions, and working to communicate with the public throughout the process,” Béland said during an evening reception following board appearances.
These include boards working in the Columbia River basin, St. Mary and Milk rivers system, Souris River basin, Red River basin, Rainy-Lake of the Woods basin, Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin and St. Croix River basin.
Board members serve in their personal, professional capacity and come with experience from government agencies, universities, Indigenous Nations, local communities and more.
The Great Lakes Water Quality Board appears before Commissioners.
This year’s Semi-Annual Meetings continued celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the International Watersheds Initiative, or IWI. Events included a workshop held during the week and a highlights video shown at the reception.
Several IJC board members who recently completed their terms were recognized for their service, along with departing staff members.
Commissioners also met with officials from Global Affairs Canada and the US Department of State to affirm ongoing commitments between Canada and the United States under the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty.