Site Accessibility Statement
Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
October 27, 2016
Canadian Excellence


Office of Aboriginal Initiatives

WATERLOO CAMPUS: "Concerns and Challenges for First Nations Water Security" by Sheri Longboat

Mar 15/12


Date: Mar 15/12
Time: 19:00 - 21:30
Location: 187 Albert Street -Aboriginal Student Centre
Cost: No Cost

This event is included in Laurier Waterloo's Aboriginal Awareness Week. For a complete listing of events, visit:

First Nations Water Security: Concerns, Challenges and Strategies

There are over 600 First Nations reserve communities in Canada many of which lack access to safe potable water necessary to meet basic human needs.  For some First Nations the situation has persisted over decades.  In 2011, the Auditor General of Canada reported that “more than half of the drinking water systems on reserves continue to pose a risk to the people who use them” and “conditions there remain significantly below the national average”.  The response of the federal government, which has constitutional authority and legislated responsibility for the protection, health, and well-being of First Nations peoples, is a top-down approach to unilaterally address water problems as technical issues, focusing on community capacity and the lack of water regulations as overarching problems. 

First Nations have a different perspective on water, and water security, one that emanates from a spiritual relationship with water.  From the traditional First Nations view, water is a scared gift to be protected as an entity unto its own and First Nations have inherent responsibilities to protect the integrity of water for Mother Earth and all of creation.  From this view, the path to water security involves addressing technical problems but as well the broader range of social, political and economic challenges that constrain First Nations from exercising inherent rights.  Restoring the traditional forms of social-political governance removed through colonization and the Indian Act is seen as an essential step.  To achieve water security therefore involves bridging elements of modern technical approaches with traditional indigenous ways.   First Nations are asserting their constitutionally protected water-related aboriginal and treaty rights, and more recent legal decisions have strengthened the argument for more equitable involvement in decision-making that impacts these rights.

The goal of this research is to enhance First Nations water security through the investigation of the interrelationships between First Nations and Western approaches to water, and the opportunities and barriers to collaboration in water governance.  The research employs a case study approach with a First Nation community located in southwestern Ontario and draws upon conceptual underpinnings from integrated water resource management, indigenous approaches, institutions and collaboration literatures.  This presentation introduces the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, and highlights the critical concerns, challenges and strategies for enhancing water security with respect to federal, provincial and First Nations water institutions.

About the presenter 

Sheri Longboat is a band member of the Six Nations of the Grand River.  She is a doctoral candidate in the Wilfrid Laurier Department of Geography and Environmental Studies completing her dissertation entitled First Nations Water Security: Collaboration in Governance, Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation.  Prior to her current pursuits Sheri worked for over 10 years with First Nations in various capacities where she focused on community-based education and training, and geomatics implementation to support land and resource management.  Sheri holds an honours BES from the University of Waterloo, MA from Wilfrid Laurier, and a BEd from Brock University. 

Sheri Longboat, PhD Candidate

Geography, Wilfrid Laurier University

Contact: Melissa Ireland
Phone: 519-884-1970 ext 4190

View all Office of Aboriginal Initiatives events