A History of Innovation in the Lake Winnipeg Basin

By Karla Zubrycki, Karla Zubrycki, Jason E.J. Manaigre (Technical Producer) on February 11, 2011

Karla Zubrycki of the Water Innovation Centre presents on the history of innovation in the Lake Winnipeg Basin at the Lake Winnipeg Basin Summit, held in Winnipeg, Canada, on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2010.

An analysis of the history of the Lake Winnipeg Basin shows that, for centuries, people living in the region have responded to challenges with highly innovative and inspiring solutions that have enabled them to survive and thrive on the prairie landscape. The earliest example given is in the thirteenth century, when First Nations people in Alberta and Saskatchewan adapted to drought by forming a taboo against killing beavers, recognizing that beaver dams store water. The presentation also focused on the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the innovations that came out if it, including new farm technologies (e.g., the Noble Blade), new government organizations (e.g., the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration) and new non-governmental groups (e.g., Ducks Unlimited Canada). The history of flooding within Manitoba, and responses to it, is also detailed.Throughout, examples of technological, social and political innovation during the history of human habitation of the basin are discussed. Implications of "lessons learned" for future planning in the basin are suggested, in particular how innovative thinking could potentially help people living in the Lake Winnipeg Basin find solutions to nutrient loading.