PhD Thesis Defence: Renee Goretsky

Date and Time


Via Videoconference


Renee Goretsky a Doctoral student in Rural Studies in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development will defend her thesis on "Indigenizing Water Governance For Social Justice Development of Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Water Framework to Indigenize Water Governance within Treaty Lands and Territory".

Examination Committee:
Dr. Sheri Longboat (SEDRD), Advisor
Dr. Kim Anderson (FRAN), Advisory Committee Member
Dr. Nicolas Brunet (SEDRD), Internal Examiner Member
Dr. Alex Latta  (Wilfrid Laurier University), External Examiner
Dr. Karen Landman, SEDRD, Examination Chair 

Advisory Committee:
Dr. Sheri Longboat (SEDRD), Advisor
Dr. Kim Anderson (FRAN), Advisory Committee Member
Dr. John Fitzgibbon (SEDRD), Advisory Committee Member

Thesis Abstract:
This research asked ‘how can water governance systems be Indigenized to achieve social justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada?’ in response to Canadian water governance injustices for Indigenous peoples. It applied this question to the Mississauga of the Credit First Nation’s (MCFN) need for developing a water framework to Indigenize water governance within its treaty lands and territory, as a partial resolution to its 2016 Water Claim (Aboriginal Title Claim to Waters within the Traditional Lands of the Mississaugas of the New Credit).

Through an emergent MCFN context-specific research methodology adapted from Kovach’s Indigenous research framework, this research explored MCFN’s water values and how they related to MCFN’s Water Claim to develop a water framework; and it aimed to decolonize constructs of social justice and western water governance.

Using qualitative community-based participatory research methods, the key findings, underpinned by a literature-based conceptual framework, were: 1)  MCFN’s water values were multi-faceted and interdependent within plural and intersecting Indigenous identities shaped by historical and contemporary colonial influences and Indigenous resistances; 2) The meanings of MCFN’s Water Claim, correlating to their water values, were:  Healing Ourselves by reconnecting with our Anishinaabe culture; Protecting the water: having a say; and Sustaining Ourselves by reclaiming our inherent, Aboriginal title and treaty rights; 3) MCFN’s multi-dimensional Water Framework, based on the Water Claim meanings, centralized Water is Life and embraced principles, objectives and suggested actions for MCFN’s implementation; 4) MCFN’s Water Framework for social justice as reconciliation related to MCFN’s agency in reclaiming and reconstituting its rights, culture and voice within respectful relationships and social transformations rather than Fraser’s model of economic (re)distribution, political representation and cultural recognition; and 5) MCFN’s Water Framework reconceptualized the resource-based Canadian water governance system to values of interconnectedness, respect, and responsibilities. This was how MCFN saw itself Indigenizing water governance within its treaty lands and territory; and contributing to the larger water governance Indigenizing movements.

The research was significant because it directly addressed a community need, expanded on Indigenous research methodologies, and decolonized western constructs to shift the power hierarchy between the colonizer and Indigenous peoples towards respectful relationships. 

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