Peter A Allard School of Law

Decolonizing Water Governance

Centre for the Law and the Environment Assistant

Centre for the Law and the Environment Assistant

Apr 20, 2024

Event info on blue background

On April 3, 2024 the Centre for Law and the Environment hosted Professor Aimée Craft for a research talk on Decolonizing Water Governance

magine Indigenous legal principles and values leading a coordinated freshwater decision-making? It can be part of Canada’s freshwater future, given the Canada Water Agency mandate to ensure collaboration and coordination amongst federal departments, with provincial governments and with Indigenous nation partners relating to freshwater.  In the past, Indigenous voices have often been disregarded or silenced in water governance decision-making spaces.  The new federal approach, which aims to redefine Canada’s water future, is an opportunity to engage with Indigenous science, knowledge, laws, values, principles and process in order to help ensure sustainability.  While water defies jurisdictional boundaries, Indigenous historical and contemporary approaches to water governance have the potential to engage across those boundaries (geo-political, disciplinary and conceptual) to enhance collaborative and sustainable water governance.  The talk will canvass three unique approaches within the Lake Winnipeg Watershed (the second largest in Canada) as case studies for Indigenous-led water governance and draw some common themes relating to indigenized and decolonial water governance. 

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About the Speaker

headshot of Aimee Craft

Aimée Craft

Aimée Craft is an award-winning teacher and researcher, recognized internationally as a leader in the area of Indigenous laws, treaties and water.  She holds a University Research Chair Nibi miinawaa aki inaakonigewin: Indigenous governance in relationship with land and water.

An Associate Professor at the Faculty of Common law, University of Ottawa and an Indigenous (Anishinaabe-Métis) lawyer from Treaty 1 territory in Manitoba, she is the former Director of Research at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the founding Director of Research at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. She practiced at the Public Interest Law Centre for over a decade and in 2016 she was voted one of the top 25 most influential lawyers in Canada.  In 2021 she was awarded the prestigious Canadian Bar Association President’s Award and was named the Early Career Researcher of the Year Award at the University of Ottawa.

Prof. Craft prioritizes Indigenous-lead and interdisciplinary research, including through visual arts and film, co-leads a series of major research grants on Decolonizing Water Governance and works with many Indigenous nations and communities on Indigenous relationships with and responsibilities to nibi (water).  She plays an active role in international collaborations relating to transformative memory in colonial contexts and relating to the reclamation of Indigenous birthing practices as expressions of territorial sovereignty.

Breathing Life Into the Stone Fort Treaty, her award-winning book, focuses on understanding and interpreting treaties from an Anishinaabe inaakonigewin (legal) perspective. Treaty Words, her critically acclaimed children’s book, explains treaty philosophy and relationships.

She is past chair of the Aboriginal Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association and a current member of the Speaker's Bureau of the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba.



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  • Centre for Law and the Environment
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