Atlantic Canada’s Model for a First Nations-led Water Authority

Article by Katherine Balpataky

Whale painting by Mi’kmaq artist, Alan Syliboy from his People of the Dawn series.



As First Nations are more actively deploying their own governance locally, regionally, and nationally, a growing body of Canadian leaders are advocating for the federal government to get out of the way. This is equally true when it comes to clean water.

In 2017, the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat (APC) put forward specific recommendations for an Indigenous-led water authority that would act as a hub to support First Nations communities managing their small water systems. The decentralized, full-service model would incorporate Two-Eyed seeing—traditional knowledge, recognizing that water has a spirit and western knowledge of water treatment. With the plan in hand, the APC is calling on the federal government for the resources to launch it.

John Paul, the executive director of the APC, who has been working on water issues for over 20 years, said, “This all started when the Expert Panel came around the country. The government recommended that they look at options water issues and the regulatory regime for the Indigenous communities across Canada.”

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