The Right To Clean Water in First Nations Initiative. http://news-centre.uwinnipeg.ca/all-posts/the-right-to-clean-water-in-first-nations-initiative/
UWinnipeg’s Dr. Melanie O’Gorman and Dr. Danielle Gaucher are members of the Water Rights Research Consortium that has been recently awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Development Grant (PDG) for the right to clean water in First Nations: the most precious gift. The overall project is led by University of Manitoba Law Professor Karen Busby, who heads the Centre for Human Rights Research.
The research will proactively confront the issue of inadequate drinking water and sanitation in First Nations communities consisting of three research clusters (economics, legal and public engagement). Researchers involved in the project hope that their interdiciplinary approach and the partnership they develop in this project may serve as a model that could be applied to other research questions of interest to First Nations. The three main themes within the project will help develop evidence-based advocacy strategies that reflect First Nations’ interests, perspectives and knowledge.
Anderson, K., Clow, B., & Haworth Brockman, M. (2013). Carriers of water: Aboriginal women’s experiences, relationships, and reflections. Journal of Cleaner Production, 60, 11–17. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2011.10.023
In many Aboriginal cultures, women have a special and distinct relationship to water, which is rooted in cultural beliefs, social practices and economic contexts as well as in women's role in reproduction. Yet Aboriginal women have often been excluded from discussions and decisions about water management, with the result that their knowledge has not necessarily been brought to bear on the development of protocols and practices. Including these women's views is critical if we hope to understand the spiritual, social, and cultural meanings as well as the economic and political importance of water quality and security. These perspectives, in turn, are essential for the formulation of appropriate and sustainable water management. In 2010, we conducted interviews with 11 Aboriginal women elders from across Canada and, through grounded theoretical analysis, gained insight into their complex understandings of and relationships to water. Many participants drew attention to the spiritual significance of water, including their understanding of water as sentient with different levels of power and purpose. They also stressed that disrespect for or carelessness in managing the relationship with water affects spiritual and community well-being as well as physical health. As we work to address issues of water quality and security, we need to be mindful of the complex meanings and purposes of water in the lives of Aboriginal women and their communities. We also need to recognize that the knowledge of Aboriginal women can contribute to improved water management policies and practices. 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Bell, C., & Napoleon, V. (2009). First Nations Cultural Heritage and Law: Case Studies, Voices, and Perspectives. Vancouver: UBC Press. Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?id=avKUsA40Q0QC&source=gbs_navlinks_s
First Nations Cultural Heritage and Law explores First Nations perspectives on cultural heritage and issues of reform within and beyond Western law. Written in collaboration with First Nation partners, it contains seven case studies featuring indigenous concepts, legal orders, and encounters with legislation and negotiations; a national review essay; three chapters reflecting on major themes; and a self-reflective critique on the challenges of collaborative and intercultural research. Although the volume draws on specific First Nation experiences, it covers a wide range of topics of concern to Inuit, Metis, and other indigenous peoples.
Boyd, D. R. (2011). No Taps, No Toilets: First Nations and the Constitutional Right to Water in Canada. McGill Law Journal, 57(1), 81–134. http://doi.org/10.7202/1006419ar
In 1977, the Canadian federal government promised to provide reserves with water and sanitation services comparable to similarly situated non-Aboriginal communities. Despite some progress, thousands of First Nations people, living on reserves across Canada, still lack access to running water or flush toilets. The adverse health effects associated with inadequate water infrastructure include elevated rates of communicable diseases such as influenza, whooping cough (pertussis), shigellosis, and impetigo. Do First Nations have an enforceable constitutional right to water? This article suggests that they do, based on the right to life, liberty, and security of the person under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; the right to equality under section 15 of the Charter; and governments' obligation to provide "essential public services of reasonable quality to all Canadians" under section 36 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The legal arguments available pursuant to these constitutional provisions are buttressed by Canada's obligations pursuant to international human rights law.
Collins, L. (2010). Environmental rights on the wrong side of history: Revisiting Canada’s position on the human right to water. Review of European Community and International Environmental Law, 19(3), 351–365. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9388.2010.00691.x
More than a billion people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water. A human-rights approach may constitute one salutary tool in global efforts to address this issue. The human right to water derives from environmental human rights writ large and is further sup- ported by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as interpreted in General Comment 15. In the face of a growing global crisis of water poverty, the author suggests that Canada ought to recognize a human right to water.
Egan, B., & Place, J. (2013). Minding the gaps: Property, geography, and Indigenous peoples in Canada. Geoforum, 44, 129–138. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2012.10.003
Indigenous peoples' property rights are hotly debated in legal, policy, and academic circles across Canada. This article explores three such debates in which Indigenous peoples and lands are centrally implicated: debates over implementing fee simple ownership on Indigenous lands, over securing land rights through modern treaty making, and over matrimonial real property rights on Indian reserves. Each of these debates, we argue, revolves around a perceived " property gap", a term we use to denote conflicting understandings of what property is (or should be), what it should accomplish, and a perceived absence or failure in property law. While such gaps are commonly identified as sites where Indigenous and Western ideas about property come into conflict, creating absences or discontinuities that need mending, they can also be understood as openings where taken-for-granted conceptions of property are " up for grabs" The property debates examined here reflect ongoing struggles over geography, highlighting contention over who can legitimately claim " ownership" over certain spaces and who can control how lands are used and governed. More broadly, they reflect efforts to " locate" Indigenous peoples vis-a-vis the modern settler state of Canada. Rather than working to " fix" these property gaps through imposition of dominant Western property ideas and structures, we stress the need to explore a broader range of property options at these sites, including those shaped by Indigenous understandings of property and geography. 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Engle, K. (2010). The Elusive Promise of Indigenous Development. Rights, Culture, Strategy. Duke University Press. http://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2012.632637
Around the world, indigenous peoples use international law to make claims for heritage, territory, and economic development. Karen Engle traces the history of these claims, considering the prevalence of particular legal frameworks and their costs and benefits for indigenous groups. Her vivid account highlights the dilemmas that accompany each legal strategy, as well as the persistent elusiveness of economic development for indigenous peoples. Focusing primarily on the Americas, Engle describes how cultural rights emerged over self-determination as the dominant framework for indigenous advocacy in the late twentieth century, bringing unfortunate, if unintended, consequences. Conceiving indigenous rights as cultural rights, Engle argues, has largely displaced or deferred many of the economic and political issues that initially motivated much indigenous advocacy. She contends that by asserting static, essentialized notions of indigenous culture, indigenous rights advocates have often made concessions that threaten to exclude many claimants, force others into norms of cultural cohesion, and limit indigenous economic, political, and territorial autonomy. Engle explores one use of the right to culture outside the context of indigenous rights, through a discussion of a 1993 Colombian law granting collective land title to certain Afro-descendant communities. Following the aspirations for and disappointments in this law, Engle cautions advocates for marginalized communities against learning the wrong lessons from the recent struggles of indigenous peoples at the international level.
Human Rights Watch. (2016). Canada’s Obligation to End the First Nations Water Crisis | HRW. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/06/07/make-it-safe/canadas-obligation-end-first-nations-water-crisis
Canada, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, is also one of the most water-rich. The province of Ontario shares the Great Lakes—which contain 18 percent of the world’s fresh surface water—with the United States. Access to sufficient, affordable, and safe drinking water and adequate sanitation is easy for most Canadians. But this is not true for many First Nations indigenous persons. In stark contrast, the water supplied to many First Nations communities on lands known as reserves is contaminated, hard to access, or at risk due to faulty treatment systems. The government regulates water quality for off-reserve communities, but has no binding regulations for water on First Nations reserves.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. (2011). National Assessment of First Nations Water and Wastewater Systems - Ontario Regional Roll-Up Report. Orangeville. Retrieved from https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1314634863253/1314634934122#chp3_3_1
The purpose of the National Assessment is to define current deficiencies and operational
needs of water and wastewater systems, to identify long-term water and wastewater
needs for each community and to review sustainable, long-term infrastructure development strategies for the next ten years. The recommendations are grouped according to infrastructure needs, operations and capacity, and reflections on regulations and guidelines.
Nationally, 571 of 587 First Nations (97%) participated in the study. Four First Nations chose not to participate, while 12 First Nations have no active infrastructure on reserve lands, in some cases as a result of recent or ongoing land claim settlements.
Klasing, A. (2016, August 30). Why is Canada denying its indigenous peoples clean water? - The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail, p. 3. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/why-is-canada-denying-its-indigenous-peoples-clean-water/article31599791/
Dozens of communities languish for years on the priority list analyzed by The Globe, thanks to years of unpredictable or insufficient funding for water systems. The federal government funds water budgets at a deficit, meaning that communities often do not have enough money to keep systems in good working order. Meanwhile, the quality and safety of source water has declined, with new contaminants such as personal care products and pharmaceutical waste making water more expensive to treat.
The Trudeau government has taken historic steps to resolve the crisis by increasing its water budget and promising to end long-term boil water advisories in five years. But the government data obtained by The Globe show that ending the crisis requires systemic changes to reduce risks for everyone living on reserve. The government should be collaborating with First Nations to a develop a plan for long-term and sustainable solutions with measurable targets to monitor success.
Laidlaw, D., & Passelac-Ross, M. (2010). Water Rights and Water Stewardship: What about Aboriginal Peoples? (Resources No. 107). Calgary. Retrieved from http://dspace.ucalgary.ca/bitstream/1880/47784/1/Resources107.pdf
The province of Alberta is currently reviewing its approach to the allocation, licensing and transfer of water rights. The government has received advice from three groups of experts established under various government initiatives. Concerned citizens have also come forward with their own recommendations, calling for an "overhaul to Alberta's water rights system, to ensure that water is secured for people and the environment ". In addition, the government has announced that it will hold public consultations on the proposed review of its water allocation and management system in the summer of 2010. One of the striking features of the reports received by government is the quasi-absence of attention paid to the issue of Aboriginal uses of, and rights to, water. First Nations are only mentioned, along with other designated groups, in one recommendation of the report submitted by the Minister's Advisory Group dealing with governance of water management and allocation. One of the reasons for this lack of attention paid to Aboriginal rights to water is Alberta's long-standing position that Aboriginal water rights have been extinguished and that the province has exclusive jurisdiction over water in the province. This position has been challenged by several First Nations in lawsuits alleging that their water rights still exist, both on and off reserve, and they should receive the benefit of constitutional protection. Aboriginal peoples also assert that they must be adequately consulted by the government on proposed reviews of the water allocation system and on ongoing land and water initiatives that impact their rights. In that respect, the government has stated that it will seek input from First Nations on water use and watershed planning initiatives through a separate "yet parallel process".
Levasseur, J., & Marcoux, J. (2015, October 15). Bad water: “Third World” conditions on First Nations in Canada. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/bad-water-third-world-conditions-on-first-nations-in-canada-1.3269500
Two-thirds of all First Nation communities in Canada have been under at least one drinking water advisory at some time in the last decade, a CBC News investigation has revealed. The numbers show that 400 out of 618 First Nations in the country had some kind of water problem between 2004 and 2014.
Mascarenhas, M., & Labillois, W. (2007). Where the Waters Divide: First Nations, Tainted Water and Environmental Justice in Canada. Local Environment, 12(6), 565–577. http://doi.org/10.1080/13549830701657265
This paper argues for a strengthening of the theoretical relationship between neo-liberalism and environmental justice. Empirical research involving First Nations communities in southwestern Ontario suggests that neo-liberal reforms introduced in the mid-1990s were particularly discriminatory against Canada's indigenous peoples, serving to exacerbate historical disparities in health, environment pollution, and well-being. In particular, under neo-liberal reform in Ontario, recognition of environmental injustices has become much more difficult for First Nations communities. Furthermore, this 'new' form of environmental governance has broadly reduced legitimate opportunities for First Nations to participate in environmental governance that affects their health and welfare. In short, this research supports a widening of the definition of environmental justice advocated by David Schlosberg and others (Environmental Politics, 13(3) (2004), pp. 517 – 540; Agyeman, Bullard and Evans 2003; Akwesasne Task Force on the Environment, Research Advisory committee 1997; Di Chiro 1998) if we are to understand the subtle, complex and multiple ways that this new form of environmental governance is particularly harmful to marginalized groups, such as First Nations in Canada.
Matsui, K. (2009). Native peoples and water rights: Irrigation, dams, and the law in western Canada. McGill-Queen’s University Press. Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?id=mfIL0uCAkN4C&lpg=PP1&dq=Native%20peoples%20and%20water%20rights%3A%20Irrigation%2C%20dams%2C%20and%20the%20law%20in%20western%20Canada&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=Native%20peoples%20and%20water%20rights:%20Irrigation,%20dams,%20and%20the%20law%20in%20western%20Canada&f=false
Economic developments in irrigation, agriculture, and hydroelectric power generation in western Canada at the turn of the last century challenged the way Native peoples had traditionally managed the watershed environment. Facing rapidly expanding provincial and federal power as well as private industries, Native peoples saw opportunities to protect their self-governing rights and explore reserve-based economy. Through a combination of field work and archival research, Kenichi Matsui offers an original and pioneering overview of the evolution of water law and agricultural policies in the Canadian west. By incorporating the history of water law philosophies, water development technologies, agricultural policies, and cross-cultural theories, Matsui constructs an interdisciplinary analysis of how both Native peoples and non-native stakeholders struggled for better rights and livelihood through litigation, political campaigns, and direct actions. The dramatic stories of early cultural, legal, and political conflict in interior British Columbia and Alberta featured in Native Peoples and Water Rights enrich our understanding of current Native rights disputes throughout North America. © McGill-Queen's University Press 2009.
Morris, M., & de Loë R. C. (2016). Cooperative and adaptive transboundary water governance in Canada’s Mackenzie River Basin: Status and prospects. Ecology and Society, 21(1), 331–343. http://doi.org/10.5751/ES-08301-210126
Canada’s Mackenzie River Basin (MRB) is one of the largest relatively pristine ecosystems in North America. Home to indigenous peoples for millennia, the basin is also the site of increasing resource development, notably fossil fuels, hydroelectric power resources, minerals, and forests. Three provinces, three territories, the Canadian federal government, and Aboriginal governments (under Canada’s constitution, indigenous peoples are referred to as “Aboriginal”) have responsibilities for water in the basin, making the MRB a significant setting for cooperative, transboundary water governance. A framework agreement that provides broad principles and establishes a river basin organization, the MRB Board, has been in place since 1997. However, significant progress on completing bilateral agreements under the 1997 Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Waters Master Agreement has only occurred since 2010. We considered the performance of the MRB Board relative to its coordination function, accountability, legitimacy, and overall environmental effectiveness. This allowed us to address the extent to which governance based on river basin boundaries, a bioregional approach, could contribute to adaptive governance in the MRB. Insights were based on analysis of key documents and published studies, 19 key informant interviews, and additional interactions with parties involved in basin governance. We found that the MRB Board’s composition, its lack of funding and staffing, and the unwillingness of the governments to empower it to play the role envisioned in the Master Agreement mean that as constituted, the board faces challenges in implementing a basin-wide vision. This appears to be by design. The MRB governments have instead used the bilateral agreements under the Master Agreement as the primary mechanism through which transboundary governance will occur. A commitment to coordinating across the bilateral agreements is needed to enhance the prospects for adaptive governance in the basin.
Napoleon, V. (2013). Thinking About Indigenous Legal Orders. In Dialogues on Human Rights and Legal Pluralism (pp. 229–245). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. http://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-4710-4_11
Rethinking Indigenous legal orders and law is fundamentally about rebuilding citizenship. The theory underlying this chapter is that it is possible to develop a flexible, overall legal framework that Indigenous peoples might use to express and describe their legal orders and laws so that they can be applied to present-day problems. This framework must be able to first, reflect the legal orders and laws of decentralized (i.e. non-state) Indigenous peoples, and second, allow for the diverse way that each society’s culture is reflected in their legal orders and laws. In turn, this framework will allow each society to draw on a deeper understanding of how their own legal traditions might be used to resolve contemporary conflicts. Colonial histories cannot be undone. This means that Indigenous peoples must figure out how to reconcile former decentralized legal orders and law with a centralized state and legal system. Any process of reconciliation must include political deliberation on the part of an informed and involved Indigenous citizenry.
Napoleon, V., & Friedland, H. (2015). An Inside Job: Engaging with Indigenous Legal Traditions through Stories. McGill Law Journal, 61. Retrieved from http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/mcgil61&id=768&div=28&collection=journals
There has been a growing momentum toward a greater recognition and explicit use of Indigenous laws in the past several years. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, the revitalization and recognition of Indigenous laws are essential to reconciliation in Canada. How, then, do we go about doing this? In this article, we introduce one method, which we believe has great potential for working respectfully and productively with Indigenous laws today. We engage with Indigenous legal traditions by carefully and consciously applying adapted common law tools, such as legal analysis and synthesis, to existing and often publicly available Indigenous resources: stories, narratives, and oral histories. By bringing common pedagogical approaches from many Indigenous legal traditions together with standard common law legal education, we hope to help people learn Indigenous laws from an internal point of view. We share experiences that reveal that this method holds great potential as a pedagogical bridge “into” respectful engagement with Indigenous laws and legal thought, within and across Indigenous, academic, and professional communities. In conclusion, we argue that, while this method is a useful tool, it is not intended to supplant existing learning and teaching methods, but rather to supplement them. In practice, we have seen that this method can be complementary to learning deeply through other means. There are many methods to engage with Indigenous laws, and there needs to be critical reflection and conversations about them all.
Paisley, R., McKinney, M., & Stenovec, M. (2015). A Sacred Responsibility: Governing the Use of Water and Related Resources in the International Columbia Basin Through the Prism of Tribes and First Nations. Public Land & Resources Law Review, 37(1), 196. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/ehost/detail/detail?sid=66b17aaa-c740-4afb-80a5-72deaaf41dc7%40sessionmgr4006&vid=0&hid=4206&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3D%3D#AN=115738145&db=eih
The article focuses on history and ongoing role of tribes and First Nations in governing the use of land and water resources in the Columbia Basin. It mentions that the legal framework that defines the role of indigenous people in international law, treaties, and transboundary water governance. It also mentions that implementation of governance arrangements for international waters.
Phare, M.-A. (2009). Denying the Source: The Crisis of First Nations Water Rights. Rocky Mountain Books. Retrieved from: https://books.google.ca/books?id=hQPslYzH9zMC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
First Nations are facing some of the worst water crises in Canada and throughout North America. Their widespread lack of access to safe drinking water receives ongoing national media attention, and yet progress addressing the causes of the problem is painfully slow. First Nations have had little say in how their waters are, or are not, protected. They have been excluded from many important decisions, as provinces operate under the view that they own the water resources within provincial boundaries, and the federal government takes a hands-off approach. The demands for access to waters that First Nations depend upon are intense and growing. Oil and gas, mining, ranching, farming and hydro-development all require enormous quantities of water, and each brings its own set of negative impacts to the rivers, lakes and groundwater sources that are critical to First Nations. Climate change threatens to make matters even worse. Over the last 30 years, the courts have clarified that First Nations have numerous rights to land and resources, including the right to be involved in decision-making. This book is a call to respect the water rights of First Nations, and through this create a new water ethic in Canada and beyond.
Von der Porten, S., & De Loë, R. C. (2013). Collaborative approaches to governance for water and Indigenous peoples: A case study from British Columbia, Canada. Geoforum, 50, 149–160. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2013.09.001
Indigenous peoples around the world hold views about identity, self-determination and nationhood that often are distinct from those of governments and others involved in environmental governance. Conflicts and tensions often result when these incompatible perspectives clash. This problem is evident in the context of collaborative approaches to environmental problem solving, which often are grounded in the assumption that Indigenous peoples simply are one of many stakeholders; this perspective is fundamentally incompatible with the concept of Indigenous peoples as existing within self-determining nations. Using an empirical case of collaborative governance for water in the province of British Columbia, Canada, this paper explores the extent to which collaborative practices reflect Indigenous concerns and perspectives. In the cases examined, collaborative practices tended not to recognize or account for concepts related to Indigenous self-determination and nationhood in ways that were accepted by affected First Nations people. We conclude with suggestions for ways in which the gap between collaborative practice and Indigenous perspectives can be addressed. 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Whyte, K. P. (2015). Is it Colonial Déjà Vu? Indigenous Peoples and Climate Injustice. In Joni Adamson, Michael Davis, & Hsinya Huang (Eds.), Humanities for the Environment: Integrating Knowledges, Forging New Constellations of Practice (pp. 1–16). Earthscan Publications. Retrieved from https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55c251dfe4b0ad74ccf25537/t/5830ca4ef7e0ab3a3c8af727/1479592529139/Colonial+Deja+Vu%2C+IP+Climate+Justice+11-19-16.pdf
Indigenous peoples are emerging as among the most audible voices in the global climate justice movement. As I will show in this chapter, climate injustice is a recent episode of a cyclical history of colonialism inflicting anthropogenic (human-caused) environmental change on Indigenous peoples (Wildcat). Indigenous peoples face climate risks largely because of how colonialism, in conjunction with capitalist economics, shapes the geographic spaces they live in and their socio-economic conditions. In the U.S. settler colonial context, which I focus on in this chapter, settler colonial laws, policies and programs are ‘both’ a significant factor in opening up Indigenous territories for carbon-intensive economic activities and, at the same time, a significant factor in why Indigenous peoples face heightened climate risks. Climate injustice, for Indigenous peoples, is less about the spectre of a new future and more like the experience of déjà vu
Wilson, N. J. (2014). Indigenous water governance: Insights from the hydrosocial relations of the Koyukon Athabascan village of Ruby, Alaska. Geoforum, 57, 1–11. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2014.08.005
Water is fundamental to Indigenous ways of life. Specific Indigenous peoples maintain distinct and multifaceted sociocultural relations to water, yet the legacy of colonialism globally means that communities around the world face similar challenges to protecting these relations. The role of Indigenous peoples and their sociocultural relations to water is currently under acknowledged in the water governance literature. Through a case study of the Koyukon Athabascan people of Ruby, Alaska, this article examines how the explicit analysis of hydro-social relations facilitates conceptualization of Indigenous water governance. Participatory research methods involving semi-structured interviews and traditional use mapping were employed to document the hydro-social relations of the people of Ruby, which water law and policy in Alaska does not adequately recognize. This study contributes to the literature in two ways. First, an engagement with the hydro-social literature makes explicit the distinct sociocultural relations to water maintained by all human communities and the existence of these multiple normative orders within the same political space, where the hydro-social relations of some populations are privileged over others. Second, it contributes to the conceptualization of Indigenous water governance by exploring the extent to which Indigenous peoples in the Yukon River Basin, including the people of Ruby, are engaging in multiple strategies to assert their sovereignty. These strategies include recognition-based approaches such as litigation to gain legal recognition of Indigenous water rights and Indigenous alternatives without reference to state recognition such as the development of community-based water monitoring programs. 2014 Elsevier Ltd.