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Water 2018, 10(1), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10010049

Shifting the Framework of Canadian Water Governance through Indigenous Research Methods: Acknowledging the Past with an Eye on the Future

1
Department of Indigenous Relations, Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON P3E 2C6, Canada
2
Department of Earth System Science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
3
Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, Canada
4
Environmental Bio-Detection Products Incorporated, Mississauga, ON L5N 2L8, Canada
5
Indigenous & Northern Health, Health Sciences North Research Institute, Sudbury, ON P3E 5J1, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 September 2017 / Revised: 4 December 2017 / Accepted: 4 January 2018 / Published: 10 January 2018
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Abstract

First Nations communities in Canada are disproportionately affected by poor water quality. As one example, many communities have been living under boil water advisories for decades, but government interventions to date have had limited impact. This paper examines the importance of using Indigenous research methodologies to address current water issues affecting First Nations. The work is part of larger project applying decolonizing methodologies to Indigenous water governance. Because Indigenous epistemologies are a central component of Indigenous research methods, our analysis begins with presenting a theoretical framework for understanding Indigenous water relations. We then consider three cases of innovative Indigenous research initiatives that demonstrate how water research and policy initiatives can adopt a more Indigenous-centered approach in practice. Cases include (1) an Indigenous Community-Based Health Research Lab that follows a two-eyed seeing philosophy (Saskatchewan); (2) water policy research that uses collective knowledge sharing frameworks to facilitate respectful, non-extractive conversations among Elders and traditional knowledge holders (Ontario); and (3) a long-term community-based research initiative on decolonizing water that is practicing reciprocal learning methodologies (British Columbia, Alberta). By establishing new water governance frameworks informed by Indigenous research methods, the authors hope to promote innovative, adaptable solutions, rooted in Indigenous epistemologies. View Full-Text
Keywords: Indigenous research methods; water governance; Indigenous knowledge systems; Indigenous water relations; community-based research; reciprocal learning; environmental justice; boil water advisories; First Nations; Canada Indigenous research methods; water governance; Indigenous knowledge systems; Indigenous water relations; community-based research; reciprocal learning; environmental justice; boil water advisories; First Nations; Canada
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Arsenault, R.; Diver, S.; McGregor, D.; Witham, A.; Bourassa, C. Shifting the Framework of Canadian Water Governance through Indigenous Research Methods: Acknowledging the Past with an Eye on the Future. Water 2018, 10, 49.

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