Exploring the Governance Landscape of Indigenous Peoples and Water in Canada An Introduction to the Special Issue

Julia Baird, Ryan Plummer


Access to water of sufficient quality and adequate quantity is a global concern. In excess of one billion people world-wide experience poor water quality or inadequate amounts of water, and many of these people are indigenous (Boelens, Chiba and Nakashima, 2006). The World Water Assessment Programme (2003:4) accordingly argued that this crisis is one of water governance, essentially caused by the ways in which we mismanage water. Diagnosing the crisis as a matter of governance highlights the complicated and dynamic social landscape of societal decision-making. Many actors are involved, roles and responsibilities are contested, and multi-scale influences need to be carefully considered. It requires attention to institutions (formal and non-formal), policies and practices. Water governance is broadly understood as the range of political, social, economic and administrative systems that are in place to develop and management water resources, and the delivery of water services, at different levels of society (Rogers and Hall, 2003:2).

Full Text:



Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. (2012). Aboriginal peoples and communities. Retrieved from http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100013785/1304467449155

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. (2003). First Nations Water Management Strategy. Retrieved from http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ai/arp/es/0708/fnwms/fnwms-eng.asp

Auclair, N. and Simeone, T. (2010). Bill S-11: The Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act. Ottawa, ON: Library of Parliament.

Bambanze, V. (2012). Foreword development with identity. In B. Walker (ed.), State of the Worlds Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2012 (pp. 6-9). London, UK: Minority Rights Group International.

Blackstock, M. (2001). Water: A First Nations spiritual and ecological perspective. Journal of Ecosystems and Management, 1(1), 1-14.

Boelens, R., Chiba, M. and Nakashima, D. (Eds.). (2006). Water and indigenous peoples. Paris: UNESCO.

Bras dOr Lakes Collaborative Environmental Planning Initiative. (2011). The spirit of the lakes speaks. Retrieved from http://brasdorcepi.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Spirit-of-the-Lake-speaks-June-23.pdf

Chiefs of Ontario. (2011). Written submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples on Bill S-11: Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act. Retrieved from http://www.magnetawanfirstnation.com/Submission.pdf

Chiefs of Ontario. (2008). Water declaration of the Anishinaabek, Mushkegowuk and Onkwehonwe in Ontario. Retrieved from http://www.chiefs-of-ontario.org/sites/default/files/files/COO%20water%20declaration%20revised%20march%202010.pdf

Christensen, R. 2011. Waterproof 3: Canadas drinking water report card. Toronto, ON: Ecojustice.

CIER. (1996). Discussion paper presenting a First Nation environmental vision statement and self-government implementation strategy. Retrieved from http://www.cier.ca/WorkArea/showcontent.aspx?id=612

Council of Canadians. (2011). The Safe Drinking Water For First Nations Act (Bill S-11). Retrieved from http://canadians.org/water/documents/FN/Bill-S11.pdf

Craig, D. (2007). Indigenous property right to water: Environmental flows, cultural values and tradeable property rights. In A. Smajgl and S. Larson (Eds.), Sustainable resource use: Institutional dynamics and economics (pp. 124-143). London, UK: Earthscan.

Eggertson, L. (2008). Despite federal promises, First Nations water problems persist. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 178(8), 985.

Health Canada. (2012). First Nations and Inuit health: Drinking water and wastewater. Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fniah-spnia/promotion/public-publique/water-eau-eng.php

Hill, C. and Martin, T. (2007). Six Nations community-based Source Water Protection Plan first draft. Ohsweken, ON: Six Nations Council.

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. (2008). Plan of action for drinking water in First Nations communities progress report January 17, 2008. Retrieved from http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100034968/1100100034976

McGregor, D. (2009). Honouring our relations: An Anishnaabe perspective on environmental justice. In J. Agyeman, P. Cole, R. Haluza-DeLay, & P. ORiley (Eds.), Speaking for ourselves: Environmental justice in Canada (pp. 27-41). Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press.

Nakashima, D. (2001). Water and indigenous peoples. Conference report 2.4, Water Policy, S49S51.

Phare, M.S. (2009). Denying the source: The crisis of First Nations water rights. Surrey, BC: Rocky Mountain Books.

Rogers, P. and Hall, A.W. (2003). Effective water governance. TEC Background Papers No. 7, Global Water Partnership Technical Committee (TEC) Background Papers. Stockholm, Sweden: Global Water Partnership.

Simeone, T. (2010). Safe drinking water in First Nations communities. Ottawa, ON: Library of Parliament.

Statistics Canada. (2012). 2006 Census: Aboriginal peoples in Canada in 2006: Inuit, Mtis and First Nations, 2006 Census: Highlights. Retrieved from http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2006/as-sa/97-558/p1-eng.cfm

Swain, H., Louttit, S. and Hrudey, S. (2006). Report of the expert panel on safe drinking water for First Nations. Ottawa, ON: Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

Voyageur, C.J. and Calliou, B. (2001). Various shades of red: Diversity within Canadas indigenous communities. London Journal of Canadian Studies, 16, 109-124.

Water Canada. (2012). Senate passes Bill S-8. Retrieved from http://watercanada.net/2012/senate-passes-bill-s-8/

White, J.P. (2012). Editor in chief commentary: Water recognizing the indigenous perspective. The International Indigenous Policy Journal, 3(3).

White, J.P., Murphy, L. and Spence, N. (2012). Water and indigenous peoples: Canadas paradox. The International Indigenous Policy Journal, 3(3).

World Water Assessment Programme. (2003). Water for people, water for life: The United Nations World Water Development Report. New York, NY: UNESCO Publishing.


  • There are currently no refbacks.