Yukon College Home Research & Innovation Chu äyì ätlʼet (The Water In Me): Collaboratively developing a water strategy for CAFN

Chu äyì ätlʼet (The Water In Me): Collaboratively developing a water strategy for CAFN

Established: 2016

This research will be founded on the traditional knowledge and values of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN). Completion of the CAFN Water Strategy is a priority for the CAFN Government and they have identified a need for applied social science research in order to document, understand, and fully integrate community values and perspectives on water across the traditional territory into that strategy. When implemented, this framework of knowledge and values will be supported by rigorous and compatible scientific knowledge and practice in the development of a water management regime that respects and sustains community water values, needs and interests while contributing to common-interest goals for CAFN citizens and all of their human and non-human neighbours.

The overarching goal of this two year project is to discover how a self-governing First Nation can move beyond participating in government-led processes for management of natural resources through “contribution” of traditional knowledge, and express an authentic indigenous ethic for environmental stewardship that such policy and regulatory processes could ultimately be reoriented around. Our project focuses on water as an integrator for such efforts.

Our primary theoretical framework is an indigenous research paradigm. Values hold a central place in this project since our collaborative research approach is based on direction from CAFN elders and will continue to be: everything we do flows from that. This research has three distinct components: taking stock of existing documented oral histories, mobilizing CAFN knowledge and values in real-world water management decisions, and revitalizing culture and language through water by compiling traditional place name origins and meanings, on river trips with participants. 

Photo credit: Yukon Government

Project Team

Principle investigator: Dr. Douglas Clark, Adjunct Professor, Yukon College and Assistant Professor, School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan

Project coordinator: Dr. Bronwyn Benkert, Manager, Northern Climate ExChange, Yukon Research Centre, Yukon College

Champagne and Aishihik First Nations investigators: Roger Brown, Nadia Joe, Jocelyn Joe-Strack, Sheila Greer and Linaya Workman

Partner investigators: Dr. Ellen Bielewski, Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta

Project Partners

Champagne and Aishihik First Nations

International Centre for Northern Governance and Development, University of Saskatchewan

Global Institute for Water Security, University of Saskatchewan

University of Alberta

Project Funders

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

International Centre for Northern Governance and Development, University of Saskatchewan

Global Institute for Water Security, University of Saskatchewan

Yukon Research Centre, Yukon College (in-kind)