Michael Blackstock. Cindy Blackstock

    GRANTING A RIVER ‘PERSONHOOD’ COULD HELP PROTECT IT: “Galvanized by widespread environmental degradation and rising Indigenous rights movements, Indigenous communities around the world are leading the way in upholding the rights of sacred and ancestral rivers,” wrote Justine Townsend, University of Guelph, in an opinion piece published by The Conversation Canada (June 2021)

    “Extractive values — the belief that natural entities are resources that can be used for human benefit with little regard for their well-being and longevity — are deeply embedded in Canada’s legal and economic systems. These values influence the ideologies at the root of our biodiversity and climate crises. These ideologies justify the transformation of rivers, forests and the atmosphere into commodities and private property at our own peril. Enshrining their rights in law is a promising legal innovation,” stated Justine Townsend.

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    CONTEXT FOR BLUE ECOLOGY AND WATER RECONCILIATION: “Over the last several years, our team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers have been exploring what this word (reconciliation) means to people in Canada. In doing so, we have come to understand that our relationship to the natural world is an important, yet often overlooked, part of furthering reconciliation,” wrote University of Manitoba researchers Aleah Fontaine and Katherine Starzyk in an article published by The Conversation (August 2021)

    “Considering traditional Indigenous perspectives and social psychological research, we wanted to understand whether people’s support for reconciliation was related to their attitudes toward nature and other animals. And if this was the case, why? At the core of our project is the idea that moral expansiveness, or the breadth of entities a person feels moral concern for, is important for motivating support for reconciliation. Our results showed that people who felt more connected to nature also supported reconciliation more,” stated Aleah Fontaine.

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    A VISION FOR WATER RECONCILIATION: “The methodology for Blue Ecology is about the actual work of interweaving the strengths of two cultures to reconcile them. It is time for First Nations to take a seat at environmental policy tables, as respected knowledge keepers who understand and respect water. Indigenous teachings can improve Western science,” stated Michael Blackstock, Indigenous Independent Scholar and creator of Blue Ecology

    Blue Ecology is an idea whose time has come. Long recognized by UNESCO and the International Association of Hydrological Sciences, Blue Ecology is defined as the interweaving of Western science and traditional First Nations teaching and local knowledge. “My work related to water and reconciliation has put the spotlight on a new angle,” stated Michael Blackstock. “Is reconciliation just dealing with the past and acknowledging the pain and moving on, or is it something more complex than that? The complexity is that if we are asking folks to change their attitude towards water, what does that mean?”

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