This project examines both Indigenous and colonial water stewardship, and will focus on three regions of the province where water use is at issue—the Similkameen Valley, the Cowichan Valley of eastern Vancouver Island, and the Nemiah Valley in the Chilcotin.
The results will provide input into the implementation of the province’s Water Sustainability Act, as well as highlight water user behaviour and educate both Indigenous and government water stewards on water sustainability planning.
The team is working with Indigenous communities to map their Indigenous water laws and draw parallels between Indigenous water stewardship and licensed water user behaviour in specific watersheds. They will interview agriculture sector water rights holders and water utility staff to uncover how they understand and use their water rights. They will also examine how users adjust to changes in stream flow in the context of the new Water Sustainability Act, demonstrating how watershed communities adapt and share water during water shortages.
Using community workshops, public materials on Indigenous water law, and a graphic water law text, the goal is to generate information and processes for moving towards collaborative watershed stewardship and water sustainability planning involving Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.