UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Water is Medicine : Reimagining Water Security through Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Relationships to Treated and Traditional Water Sources in Yukon, Canada Wilson, Nicole J.; Harris, Leila; Joseph-Rear, Angie; Beaumont, Jody; Satterfield, Terre, 1960-


There is growing acknowledgement that the material dimensions of water security alone are inadequate; we also need to engage with a broader set of hydrosocial relationships. Indeed, more holistic approaches are needed to explain Indigenous peoples’ relationships to water including the use of traditional water sources such as mountain creeks and springs. In this paper, we seek to reimagine water security through a case study of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in’s relationships to both treated and traditional water sources throughout the First Nation’s traditional territory in Yukon, Canada. Through community-based research including interviews with Elders and other community members, we examine the importance of traditional water sources for meeting important health requirements including physical, spiritual and cultural wellbeing. This intervention contributes to ongoing debates about what it means to secure safe and affordable water in three key ways: First, we argue that Indigenous water relations invite a shift towards more a holistic understanding of water security; second, we contend that settler colonial politics should be understood as a root cause of water insecurity; finally, we explore how Two-Eyed Seeing can be applied as an alternative to the ‘integration’ of Western scientific and Indigenous approaches to drinking water.

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CC BY 4.0