The International Joint Commission (IJC) held its Fall Semi-Annual Meeting in Ottawa, Ontario, in October, marking a return to in-person meetings following the onset of the 2020 pandemic.
Semi-Annual meetings are typically held on a rotating basis in Ottawa and at the IJC’s US Section Office in Washington, D.C.
Coming together for a Semi-Annual is a unique opportunity for Commissioners to hear from, and speak directly with, members of IJC binational boards and committees that monitor and manage programs related to water quality, flow and levels along the Canadian and United States border. Board members gather at Semi-Annual meetings to present progress reports to Commissioners and discuss ongoing and emerging issues.
These boards span from coast-to-coast, ranging from the Osoyoos Lake, Columbia River and Kootenay Lake boards of control in the West to the Lake Champlain-Richelieu River Study Board and St. Croix River Watershed Board in the East.
While in Ottawa, Commissioners also met with US Ambassador David L. Cohen and took part in a meeting with governments. These meetings represent the importance of maintaining international diplomatic dialogue within binational organizations when Commissioners travel to host countries. Commissioners took the opportunity to update the ambassador on a variety of issues underway in the IJC, as well as emerging issues that may someday require the IJC’s unique expertise.
“We are truly very grateful for the unwavering support provided by all our partners and colleagues on both sides of the border to help ensure that we deliver on our responsibilities for communities across our shared waters,” Commissioner and Canadian Chair Pierre Béland said during a Wednesday evening reception where a number of board members were recognized for achievements and service.
Commissioner Lickers, left, with Gayle Wood, recognized with a print by Anishinaabe artist Mariah Alexander for completing her service as a Canadian member of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board. Credit: IJC
Members of the Lake Champlain-Richelieu River Study Board were recognized at the Semi-Annual Meeting reception. The board completed a five-year study in 2022, releasing a final report. Credit: IJC
The IJC uses these formal receptions as an opportunity to thank its board members, past and present, who dedicate their time to help continue the long tradition of cooperation between Canada and the United States under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909.
“We deeply respect and appreciate what the IJC has accomplished and can accomplish as an organization,” Commissioner and Acting US Chair Rob Sisson said during the reception.
“However, those accomplishments are not possible without the dedication of every one of our boards, and their committees and advisory groups. Together, with the fantastic staff that make up this organization, we develop and deliver the independent, impartial science-based recommendations and advice that are central to our mandate.”