Realizing the Vision in Canada’s Northwest Terrritories


Northern Voices, Northern Waters

This past January, POLIS Co-Director Oliver M. Brandes joined leading water policy and law experts at a unique conference in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. As part of Oliver brandes (120p)a three-year project funded by RBC’s Blue Water Project, the group gathered with leaders, key individuals and groups for a three-day conference. Attendees discussed the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy and strategic opportunities to implement the strategy and further the territory’s efforts to protect the Mackenzie River Basin.

The conference, Realizing the Vision, was facilitated by the Forum for Leadership on Water (FLOW) and hosted by the Territorial Government. Realizing the Vision presented an unparalleled opportunity for multi-disciplinary dialogue and knowledge sharing amongst a global group of water experts. The common vision of all those in attendance is the implementation of a groundbreaking, integrative water management strategy in NWT with elements that could, ultimately, be applied elsewhere in Canada.

The Northern Voices, Northern Waters Water Stewardship Strategy sets the stage for the next generation of Canadian water policy by incorporating ecological knowledge alongside the values and concerns of Aboriginal peoples, regional stakeholders, and governance bodies. At the conference, participants discussed the possible implications of devolution, the importance of developing strong transboundary relations, and the need for land and water boards to ensure effective implementation of the Strategy.

Staff from every level of the territorial government attended the conference – from the Minister of Environment/Finance, Michael Miltenberger, to the Deputy Minister, ADMs, Directors, and water policy analysts. Both the Premier, Floyd Royland, and former Premier, Steve Kakfwi, presented. Over 100 key leaders and community members attended the conference’s successful public forum. This public discussion focused on the precedent-setting elements of the Strategy, Indigenous water rights, and the centrality of water to the Aboriginal way of life. The public forum was recorded by The Walrus and can be viewed on their website.

An analysis of conference outcomes will be released in the Spring 2011 edition of the FLOW Monitor: Canadian Water Policy Watch. FLOW will also host a number of follow up discussions across Canada to highlight the importance of this precedent-setting strategy, and engage other regions in the possibility of significant reform and the move towards a national water strategy in Canada. Stay tuned!


Posted March 2011