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CALL FOR RESEARCH PARTNERS from Indigenous Nations, Organizations, and Leaders for Great Lakes Indig

The resiliency of Indigenous Nations to protect ancestral waters is affirmed through countless efforts of Indigenous innovation in water governance. With the increasing diversity of users in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Basin, which is shared by Indigenous Nations, the United States, Canada and other provincial, state, and local governments, climate change requires governance adaptation and transformation for water protection.

An Indigenous Water Governance Project is a field based partnership study nominated by an Indigenous Nation or organization that focuses on a major water governance issue facing Native American Tribes/ First Nations in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Basin. These partnership studies are rooted in the sovereign choice of an Indigenous Nation to partner with an Indigenous researcher at McMaster University to study a water governance issue confronting that nation. Some examples of such issues include access to equitable decision-making in Great Lakes management regimes, effective exercise of self-government for water quality monitoring, best practices for consultation that respect the right to free, prior, and informed consent for actions that may impact Indigenous waters, climate change adaptation planning with a focus on water protection, or cultural values that inform Indigenous water justice.

The partnership is intended to be helpful to Tribes and First Nations by contributing to the growing body of research on replicable best practices and celebrating Indigenous innovations in water governance. The partnership will also enable the identification of additional research needs of Great Lakes Tribes and First Nations. Ultimately, the research could aid in identifying opportunities for asserting treaty rights, negotiating co-governance agreements, and furthering understanding of Tribal/First Nation rights and expertise in the protection of the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is a commitment between the United States and Canada to restore and protect the waters of the Great Lakes. The Agreement provides a framework for identifying binational priorities and implementing actions that improve water quality. In 2012, the Agreement was amended to protect against water quality threats and ensure the “chemical, physical, and biological integrity” of the Great Lakes. However, Indigenous Nations were not signatories to the Agreement nor parties to the negotiations. Despite Indigenous exclusion from international Great Lakes decision-making, Indigenous Nations continue to excel as water protectors. The research partnership aims to identify, celebrate, and share outstanding examples of Indigenous water governance innovations that notably address specific issue areas identified in the Agreement. Those areas known under the 10 Annexes include: Contaminated Sites; Lakewide Management; Chemicals of Mutual Concern; Nutrients; Discharges from Vessels; Aquatic Invasive Species; Habitat and Species; Groundwater; Climate Change Impacts; and Science.

This research is guided by the belief that Indigenous Nations are lead innovators in existing and emerging water governance and that Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty are critical to building and sustaining resilient Indigenous communities in the face of water insecurity and climate change. Indigenous Nations as partners in this research will be at the forefront of widening access to innovative water sustainability ideas and effective collaborative decision-making approaches for other Indigenous Nations facing similar water governance challenges in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Basin.

To Propose a Case Study for Partnership:

  1. Review the Letter of Information to understand the expectations of the research partnership.

  2. Submit the application form available here clearly addressing the scope and goal of the research project by March 23, 2018.

  3. Answer any follow-up questions and submit any additional information by April 6, 2018.

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