On Jan 14 Nicole Wilson is giving a talk about her doctoral research at the IRES seminar series, from 12:30 to 1:30 in AERL. Her talk is titled ““More precious than gold”: Yukon First Nations and water governance in the context of modern land claims agreements”.
Abstract: Water governance is of critical concern to Yukon First Nations, whose health, livelihoods and cultural well being are complexly connected to the waters within their traditional territories. Increasing social and environmental pressures, induced by high rates of resource development (largely mining) and climatic change, underscore the present urgency of protecting First Nations’ socio-cultural relations to water. Modern land claims agreements uniquely shape the water governance landscape of Yukon Territory. Through a twenty-year process of treaty negotiation, First Nations agreed to retain Aboriginal rights and title to less than 10% of the lands within their traditional territory in exchange for partnership in the governance of all Yukon lands and resources. The Umbrella Final Agreement and the 11 treaties, which resulted from the negotiation, express the fundamental principle of co-governance in critical areas such as water.
Through a qualitative case study, this presentation examines the divergence between Yukon First Nation relationships to water and water governance and their ability to influence the process and outcomes of decision-making about water governance despite modern land claims. Analysis reveals that while land claims resulted in a departure from previous governance arrangements, marked most notably by the creation of several co-management boards aimed at fostering shared decision-making, First Nations continue to face regulatory injustices as they navigate a governance network and relationships characterized by asymmetries of power, authority and legitimacy. Specific challenges include a disjuncture between First Nation and ‘settler’ views on water, a high level of distrust, failures of both consultation and respect for the ‘spirit and intent’ of land claims agreements, as well as the enduring legacy of colonialism more broadly. Opportunities nonetheless exist that might be leveraged to enhance First Nations influence over decisions and so strategic realization of goals within and outside of the present system.
To learn more about her work, visit her website at: http://nicolejwilson.net/