WATERLOO, ON, MAY 6, 2014 - Unsafe drinking water and improperly functioning wastewater and stormwater systems, combined with threats such as droughts and floods, disproportionately burden Indigenous communities in Canada. There is a growing recognition that solutions rely on better integration of Indigenous and Western knowledge. Canadian Water Network (CWN), one of Canada's federally-supported Networks of Centres of Excellence, is investing almost $200,000 to determine which research approaches are best at ensuring that management of our shared water resources honours and benefits from an increased focus on the integration of Indigenous and Western knowledge.
"Since 2001, CWN has invested over $3.5 million in research and initiatives addressing water management challenges in First Nation, Inuit, and Métis communities," says Simon Courtenay, Scientific Director of Canadian Water Network. "We are building on our past successes and continue to invest in the importance of Indigenous knowledge as a valued way of more deeply understanding the situation and solutions."
The one-year project, "Indigenous and Western Knowledge: Integrating Both for Effective Water Management in Canada," led by Dr. Heather Castleden from Queen's University, is multi-disciplinary in nature, drawing on the expertise of 4 universities and 17 partners, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit organizations, government and non-governmental organizations. The project will also be guided by a National Advisory Committee of Indigenous and non-Indigenous water experts.
"We are equipping future decision-makers with the tools to execute more effective water management initiatives that integrate Indigenous and Western knowledge and methods, recognizing their complementary strengths" says Bernadette Conant, Executive Director of Canadian Water Network. "The project will inform future research approaches that will advance integrated water research policy and governance in Canada."
The team will assess the approaches that have been applied to integrating traditional knowledge effectively in research programs. It will generate assessment frameworks in collaboration with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis knowledge-holders to systematically identify and assess these studies, uncovering the relative merits, strengths, challenges and opportunities. The team will also facilitate a national Water Gathering, bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples from across the country to discuss the results and engage in dialogue about strategies and approaches for effectively moving forward water resource management and practice in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, and beyond.
About Canadian Water Network (CWN) Headquartered at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canadian Water Network (www.cwn-rce.ca) was created in 2001 by the Networks of Centres of Excellence Program to connect international water researchers with decision-makers engaged in priority water management issues. Canadian Water Network works to harness the expertise of researchers to improve the ability of practitioners and implementers to respond to water challenges.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Media and Public Relations Coordinator
Canadian Water Network
519-888-4567, ext. 37709