Reconciliation and Relationality in Water Research and Management in Canada: Implementing Indigenous Ontologies, Epistemologies, and Methodologies

  • Heather CastledenEmail author
  • Catherine Hart
  • Ashlee Cunsolo
  • Sherilee Harper
  • Debbie Martin
Part of the Global Issues in Water Policy book series (GLOB, volume 17)


Water-related issues disproportionately affect Indigenous communities in Canada. Despite millions in investment, Western-trained scientists, engineers, and other researchers as well as the government agencies that have constitutionally-mandated fiduciary responsibilities to address such issues have been rather unsuccessful in solving them. This has been due, in large part, to an overreliance on methods of Western science and management, ignoring the vast place-based wisdom of Indigenous knowledge systems and relational practices regarding water found across the country. The underlying reasons for this partiality are not innocuous; entrenched colonial and racist policies, programs, and practices have persisted across time and space. In recent years, there is increasing recognition of the importance of applying Indigenous approaches to water challenges in Canada. But strategies for successful implementation are only beginning to emerge. In an attempt to respond to this knowledge gap, our research has sought to systematically identify and assess how both Indigenous and Western ontologies, epistemologies, and methodologies have been implemented in water research and management. In doing so, this chapter identifies some of the most promising practices in Canada. We share these with the goal of contributing to processes of reconciliation and responsibility towards each other as well as our roles as water stewards across the country.


Integrative Approach Indigenous People Indigenous Community Water Research Indigenous Knowledge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather Castleden
    • 1
    Email author
  • Catherine Hart
    • 2
  • Ashlee Cunsolo
    • 3
  • Sherilee Harper
    • 4
  • Debbie Martin
    • 5
  1. 1.Health, Environment, and Communities Research Lab, Department of Geography and PlanningQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Health, Environment, and Communities Research LabQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  3. 3.Departments of Nursing and Indigenous StudiesCape Breton UniversitySydneyCanada
  4. 4.Department of Population MedicineUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  5. 5.School of Health and Human PerformanceDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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