Co-Creation of Indigenous Water Quality Tools

PI: Dawn Martin-Hill, McMaster University 

Project Manager: Karissa John

The Problem: An analysis of water security and climate change in Indigenous communities shows that up to 72,000 people could have been affected by drinking water advisories (DWAs) in First Nations at the start of 2017. In 2016 alone, 133 boil water advisories in 90 indigenous communities were issued that affected over 50,000 people across the country.

The Plan: This project will work with two distinct communities, Six Nations of the Grand River (Ontario) and Lubicon Cree Nation of Little Buffalo (northern Alberta), to capture the range of water challenges in Indigenous communities. The project will use an innovative research framework informed by the Indigenous partners to facilitate sharing and integration of contemporary science and Indigenous and Local Knowledge. Building capacity to monitor source waters with environmental sensors, we will investigate ecosystem health and the cause of health issues related to contaminated water, design inclusive poly-centric decision-making models for water governance, and develop appropriate place-based sustainable solutions.

The Outcome: The co-creation of sensors, data analysis and culturally relevant tools will build long-term and sustained community capacity to address current and future uncertainties in water quality. Many other Indigenous communities across Canada will stand to benefit from the collaborative methodologies and pedagogies of integrating western and Indigenous knowledge, experience, tools and expertise gained from this project.