Prepared by the Chiefs of Ontario
As provincial legislation pertaining to water is being proposed and federal strategies are being implemented, First Nations are voicing concern about not only their lack of input in these initiatives, but also the virtual absence of any cultural reference therein. The Chiefs of Ontario, in collaboration with Environment Canada, embarked on a project to capture some of the First Nations’ traditional views on taking care of water, and how this knowledge can fit with current government source water protection plans. This report is an informative compilation of the Elders’ and Traditional Knowledge Holders’ views of the appropriate role of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge in Source Water Protection. In addition, this report contains some of the concerns and questions regarding the implementation of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge in Source Water Protection regimes in Ontario raised by policy makers and people responsible for water stewardship. Finally, the report contains some suggestion on the ways in which the challenges of integrating ATK in Source Water Protection can be addressed.
First Nations communities have identified the need to include Aboriginal traditional knowledge (ATK) in source water protection planning and environmental planning. Environment Canada and First Nations in Ontario are interested in understanding better the role that ATK will play in Source Water Protection (SWP) in the province at the community and watershed level.
In 2001, the Chiefs of Ontario (COO) commissioned a report, Water Quality in the Province of Ontario: An Aboriginal Knowledge Perspective, which provided an overview of “what water means to Aboriginal people in Ontario” (McGregor and Whitaker, 2001). It presented the traditional perspectives of a small group of selected Elders and Aboriginal knowledge holders from various Aboriginal cultural groups. This report was incorporated into COO’s submission to the Walkerton Inquiry (Kamanga, 2001). The submission overall emphasized that including ATK in Ontario’s decision making on source water protection is imperative.
Click here to download the entire report (PDF - 142Kb)