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    Review of 'Decolonizing Canadian Water Policy : Lessons From Indigenous Case Studies'

    Decolonizing Canadian Water Policy : Lessons From Indigenous Case StudiesCrossref
    A timely, interesting article that just needs a bit more depth in the case studies and analysis
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    Decolonizing Canadian Water Policy : Lessons From Indigenous Case Studies

    Meaningful lessons about decolonizing water infrastructure (social, economic and political) can be learned if we scrutinize existing governance principles such as the ones provided by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Principles on Water Governance (OECD, 2021). Instead of using only Western frameworks to think about policy within Indigenous spheres of water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH), the Government of Canada can look to Indigenous ways of knowing to compliment their understanding of how to govern areas of WaSH efficiently. In this paper, the term Indigenous encompasses First Nations, Inuit and Métis populations (Hanrahan & Hudson, 2014; Blaser, 2012). I present this paper as a step out of many toward decolonizing water governance in Canada. I hope to have shown in this paper that it is necessary to make space for other voices in water governance. By highlighting the dangers in the Case Studies, three lessons are apparent in this paper: 1. There needs to be an addition of Indigenous Two-Eyed Seeing in water governance; 2. Canada must strengthen its nation-to-nation praxis with Indigenous communities; and 3. There needs to be a creation of space in WaSH that fosters Indigenous voices. This is necessary such that there can be equal participation in policy conversations to mitigate existing problems and explore new possibilities.

      Review information

      This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com.

      Environmental ethics,Environmental management, Policy & Planning,Geography,Applied ethics
      Decolonization, Water, Policy, Indigenous, Ethics,Environmental justice and inequality/inequity,Environmental policy and practice,Water resources

      Review text

      Overall, this is a very interesting paper, and definitely worthy of publication. It does require some amendment before publication, but these amendments are to make explicit some of the author’s contentions and assumptions, not because there is any error to be corrected. I really enjoyed reading this paper, and I look forward to seeing the final version in print.

      If you’d like to strengthen your connection to the global experience, I suggest citing papers by Indigenous authors outside Canada as well, including Martuwarra RiverOfLife et al., (2021) Ruru (2018), Wilson et al (2021).

      Page 2 – “I claim” – I suggest this should be “I argue” as this is what you are doing. You are demonstrating through the case studies that your argument is correct. Calling it a ‘claim’ suggests that you’re coming to this without evidence, which is the opposite of what you’re doing.

      Page 4 – two opposing ideals compared using the metric of efficiency. This is a problem of non-commensurability, which happens when you try to make two very different things measurable by the same standard, or same metric. Have a look at Tribe (1974) for more on non-commensurability, I think you’d find this a useful concept.

      Page 4 – in your critique of OECD, it might be useful to examine another article that has also considered these principles from an Indigenous perspective, see Taylor et al., (2019)

      Page 5 – include a bit more on why you have selected Principles 2 and 4. Perhaps make the case that trust is a major issue between Indigenous Peoples and settler colonial governments, and then argue that these two principles require trust. I think you can also identify a set of assumptions that tend to underpin ‘competencies’ and ‘governance’ – these are usually interpreted solely through a whitefella/settler colonial lens, and often look very different (while being equally or more effective) in Indigenous legal and cultural frameworks. Settler colonial systems often consider Indigenous forms of governance to be inadequate in a formal sense, without considering (or understanding) the substantive outcomes.

      Page 5 – add a reference to your statement about the harm of current water practices. Vörösmarty et al., (2010) is a good example.

      Page 6 – I would suggest avoiding using an alphabetical list to describe your case studies. Use paragraphs and prose instead, unless you’re dot pointing. If you're short on words, you could see if you can identify key themes in each case study and convert this into a table. 

      Case studies –

      1. Case Study 1 - include a brief factual statement about the actual problems. What are the water safety issues? What are the water quality issues? Are they causing health problems? Tell the story with just a bit more detail to really show the reader how egregious these problems are. You also need a bit more detail about why the Bills/Acts were rejected – which Treaty rights were being ignored?
      2. Case Study 2 – can you flip the first point to say that there were various settler colonial policy and legal documents establishing governance arrangements for the Great Lakes, and that the Tribes considered these inadequate because… [insert a ref for declining health of Great Lakes]. This is a good news story, by the sounds of it, so give us a little more detail on what happened. How did the Chiefs get their Declaration taken seriously by the legislature? Is that sufficient? Have their Treaty rights been respected? How is this evidence of two-eyed seeing?
      3. Case Study 3 – this is really strong and interesting, as well as having enough detail to really hook the reader in.

      Page 11 – when capitalizing Oppressed and Oppressor, it would be useful to connect these terms to the specifics in your paper. If you can also reference literature that uses this terminology, that would help as well (not disputing your use of the term at all, just needing to hook it in to the literature).

      Analysis of the OECD principles and case studies – This section really relies on an assumed knowledge of Treaty rights. Your paper needs to provide this information (possibly as part of the introduction, or as part of the case study section) to give your analysis the impact it needs. Your analysis is spot on, but you just need to more explicitly link it back to the Treaty content. This will enable to you to more effectively explain why these principles, of themselves, are not set up to support effective water governance in settler colonial contexts.

      Page 11 – is Two-Eyed Seeing a research methodology, or a governance framework (or both?). In this instance, I think you’re using it in the governance context, because it provides a way to reform law and policy in a settler colonial context, and a way to make decisions fairly and equitably.

      Conclusion – there is quite a bit of repeated summation in your paper, so if you’re pushed for word limits, try to cut back on some of the summaries in your intro and conclusion, and use these words to expand your case studies and include the Treaty rights.

      Additional articles to consider for inclusion

      Martuwarra RiverOfLife, Taylor, K. S., & Poelina, A. (2021). Living Waters, Law First: Nyikina and Mangala water governance in the Kimberley, Western Australia. Australasian Journal of Water Resources, 25(1), 40–56. https://doi.org/10.1080/13241583.2021.1880538

      Ruru, J. (2018). Listening to Papatūānuku: A call to reform water law. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 48(2–3), 215–224. https://doi.org/10.1080/03036758.2018.1442358

      Taylor, K. S., Longboat, S., & Grafton, R. Q. (2019). Whose Rules? A Water Justice Critique of the OECD’s 12 Principles on Water Governance. Water, 11, 809. https://doi.org/10.3390/w11040809

      Tribe, L. H. (1974). Ways Not to Think About Plastic Trees: New Foundations for Environmental Law. Yale Law Journal, 83, 1315–1346.

      Vörösmarty, C. J., McIntyre, P. B., Gessner, M. O., Dudgeon, D., Prusevich, A., Green, P., Glidden, S., Bunn, S. E., Sullivan, C. A., Reidy-Liermann, C., & Davies, P. (2010). Global Threats to Human Water Security and River Biodiversity. Nature, 467, 555–561.

      Wilson, N. J., Montoya, T., Arseneault, R., & Curley, A. (2021). Governing water insecurity: Navigating indigenous water rights and regulatory politics in settler colonial states. Water International, 46(6), 783–801. https://doi.org/10.1080/02508060.2021.1928972


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