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  • Writer's pictureElaine Ho-Tassone

Considering Indigenous and Western water knowledge

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

The first of two papers in a special issue of the Journal of Great Lakes Research is now freely available online!

The Journal of Great Lakes Research is in the process of publishing its special issue titled Bridging Knowledge Systems between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Dr. Ho-Tassone submitted two manuscripts to this issue based on her PhD research, the first of which is now publicly accessible online. The abstract of this paper is as follows:

In Canada, the assessment of cumulative effects, incremental and accumulating environmental changes in a region over time, emerged from environmental impact assessment, which was designed to serve the ethos of western, ‘settler’ governments despite being practiced in areas that usually overlap Indigenous territories. The limited (western) purview of cumulative effects assessment is reinforced by a lack of diversity in water monitoring and management practitioners. Our objective is to develop a new approach, collaborative watershed analysis, in which diverse ways of knowing are considered in the assessment of cumulative effects in water quality monitoring. An online workshop and 21 interviews informed how Canadian water managers, community members, and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) peoples may collaborate to assess cumulative effects in the lower Grand River and the nearshore of Lake Erie (eastern basin in Ontario, Canada). Our results and discussion progress from western perspectives of ‘what is’ to a broader discussion of ‘what could be’, drawing on the perspectives of Haudenosaunee youth in the Grand River Watershed. We propose three recommendations for the creation of a cumulative effects monitoring framework: (1) co-create the intent and expectations of the monitoring program with all participants at the outset; (2) ensure diverse persons are invited to contribute; and (3) enable the sharing of knowledge in different formats. Strengths of collaborative watershed analysis include connecting biophysical aspects of the watershed with social, economic, and cultural aspects, as well as repositioning diverse ways of knowing as a foundation upon which cumulative impacts can be better understood and managed.

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