Resetting the National Sail: A Considerations Paper on Indigenous Governance and The Canada Water Agency


Water is critical to life, yet our water resources are at great risk due to climate change, pollution, overuse and other management challenges. On December 19, 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mandated ECCC Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to “create a new Canada Water Agency to work together with the provinces, territories, Indigenous communities, local authorities, scientists and others to find the best ways to keep our water safe, clean and well-managed.”The way to water is through governance. We need a new way of working together on water, one that respects Indigenous rights and responsibilities and the needs of generations to come. Dene Nation is mandated to speak out on national and international issues of concern to the Dene and the Canada Water Agency is one such matter. The Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources is a national, First Nation environmental charitable organisation that works on environmental capacity building. To discuss the CWA, we requested our advisors to prepare a brief paper on considerations regarding Indigenous governance and the proposed Canada Water Agency.

The attached brief paper has set out many important ideas. Our goal is to create a conversation on this issue, moving beyond mere consultation and engagement, to a consideration of true water governance reform. We need this because of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, and the need to move to collaborative and productive conversations about how to sustainably manage waters that we all rely upon.

We are in the time of collaboration and partnership. The last 153 years has shown us that the status is not working and no one government can go it alone, especially with water.

We look forward to the conversation and discussion that will be prompted by this paper.