Shifting the Framework of Canadian Water Governance through Indigenous Research Methods: Acknowledging the Past with an Eye on the Future
1. Cree Creation Story
3. Case Background: Decolonizing Water
3.1. Indigenous Research Methodologies
Indigenous methods do not flow from western philosophies, they flow from tribal epistemologies. If tribal knowledges are not referenced as legitimate knowledge systems guiding Indigenous methods and protocols within the research process, there is a congruency problem. Furthermore, by not recognizing Indigenous inquiry for what it is—a distinctive methodology—the political and practical quagmire will persist. (p. 37)
3.2. First Nations Water Crisis
4. Discussion and Analysis
4.1. Indigenous Research Contributions: Understanding Indigenous Water Relations
The ethic of responsibility to water reflects the notion that water is understood as a living force which must be protected and nurtured; it is not a commodity to be bought and sold. Water, according to First Nations peoples, has cleansing and purifying powers. It is the giver of life with which babies are born. It is imperative in our traditions to keep the water clean so it can continue to fulfill its purpose. (p. 501)
Laws govern interactions between beings. In Anishinaabe law, we expand our understanding of “beings” to include life forms such as animals, plants, rocks, in other words anything that has a spirit. Spirits are considered to be beings with whom we interact. Anishinaabe law considers the interactions between and within these beings and understands them to be governed by spiritual, natural and customary laws. Sacred law is the law that is handed down to us by the spirit. Natural law is dictated by what we observe in nature and that “behaviour” which we model ourselves by. (p. 44)
The rich stories, ceremonies, and traditions within First Nations… contain the law in First Nations communities as they represent the accumulated wisdom and experience of First Nations conflict resolution. Some of these narratives pre-date the common law, have enjoyed their effectiveness for millennia, and have yet to be overruled or extinguished out of existence. These laws relative to environmental protection are strong and contain legal principles that could be integrated into US and Canadian institutions. (p. 454)
4.2. Indigenous Research Contributions: Indigenous Water Governance Case Analysis
4.2.1. Redesigning the Research Lab: “Two-Eyed Seeing”
4.2.2. Indigenous Research and International Water Policy: Knowledge Sharing Frameworks
4.2.3. Research Methods for Decolonizing Water: Reciprocal Learning
4.2.4. Case Study Synthesis: Reciprocal Relations, Reciprocal Learning
Conflicts of Interest
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|Recommendations for Engaging in Indigenous Research|
|• Learn directly from Indigenous communities.|
|• Actively engage with Indigenous epistemologies through research questions, concepts, and practice.|
|• Follow OCAP (Ownership-Control–Access-Possession) research principles.|
|• Seek advice from community Elders and advisors, in addition to elected leaders.|
|• Involve youth in research and other project activities.|
|• Incorporate trainings that increase community capacity for research to be conducted within and at the direction of the community.|
|• Involve community and academic research partners in a collaborative and participatory process to balance goals for research and community benefit/action.|
|• Train and hire Indigenous peoples, especially youth scientists to carry out field work and assessment experiments.|
|• Ensure equal power sharing in research decision-making processes, with open engagement, full disclosure, and the community members acting as full partners.|
|• Acknowledge that all Indigenous communities and peoples are different (although some commonalities exist) so that research approaches can be customized accordingly.|
|• Practice the “two-eyed seeing” philosophy and recognize that two-eyed seeing can encompass more than just “western” and “Indigenous” knowledges.|
|• Apply a reciprocal learning approach, which means ensuring that both Indigenous community members and academic researchers learn from one another at a deep level through the research process.|
|• Acknowledge and account for the effects of colonization when considering potential solutions and recommendations.|
|• Restructure research laboratories based on Indigenous research philosophies and methodologies (e.g., lab methods practiced by Dr. Carrie Bourassa).|
|• Support efforts to include diverse Indigenous knowledges into existing law, environmental policy, and western science by enabling communities to “talk back to power” in a culturally appropriate manner.|
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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. https://doi.org/10.3390/w10010049
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(1):49. https://doi.org/10.3390/w10010049Chicago/Turabian Style
Arsenault, Rachel, Sibyl Diver, Deborah McGregor, Aaron Witham, and Carrie Bourassa. 2018. "Shifting the Framework of Canadian Water Governance through Indigenous Research Methods: Acknowledging the Past with an Eye on the Future" Water 10, no. 1: 49. https://doi.org/10.3390/w10010049