In an era of water scarcity and resource disputes, it is imperative that obligations and responsibilities relating to lands and waters are fully understood. In Ontario, relationships between the Crown and Indigenous Nations regarding lands and waters are tenuous. Professor Aimée Craft, whose research explores the changing legal landscape of Indigenous water governance, has received an Early Researcher Award (ERA) from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade to further study and advance these relationships.
Indigenous people in Ontario are disproportionally affected by water insecurity yet continue to have a sacred relationship with water that is recognized as a right in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Professor Craft’s research will assist Indigenous and non-Indigenous governments and decision-makers in navigating their relationships with lands and waters, and amongst each other. It will allow science and policy to speak to shared priorities and Indigenous values, working together towards a healthier environment, safe drinking water for all residents of Ontario – including in First Nations communities – and more certainty about water use within the province. This project will also help to map how two worldviews (and legal systems) might be reconciled and work alongside each other.
The ERA program provides funding to new researchers working at publicly-funded Ontario research institutions to assist them in building research teams. Professor Craft will use this funding to build a team of researchers and a collaboration with Indigenous communities and the Grand Council Treaty #3 (GCT3) representing 28 First Nations in North-Western Ontario. She will receive $100,000 from the Ministry, with an additional $50,000 from the University of Ottawa in matching funds.
Professor Craft is the seventh recipient of the Ontario ERA from the Common Law Section. Former Common Law professor Daniel Gervais received the award in 2005. More recently, Professor Suzanne Bouclin received an ERA in 2015; Professor Jennifer Bond received one in 2016; former Common Law Professor Steven Hoffman earned the award in 2017; and Professors Wolfgang Alschner and Amy Salyzyn each won an ERA in 2018.
Congratulations to Professor Craft!