With a revitalized vision for Great Lakes governance, a diverse team of water protectors spent 2 years co-creating the Great Lakes Commons Charter Declaration. It was a collaboration among Indigenous water defenders and advocates representing a range of geography, ancestry, and issues. Since the Charter’s launch, hundreds of people have responded and started a growing community affirming that these waters:

  • are the source of our wellbeing and identity

  • work as one interdependent whole connecting their health with ours

  • are a gift and eternal responsibility that every generation protects for the next one

  • have been shared and sustained by Indigenous nations throughout the ages

  • obligate nations into shared decision making through honourable treaty

The Charter Declaration asks:

What action will you take to bring this Declaration to life?

A new set of resources is now ready to help answer this question and enliven the Charter across the basin. With your energy, this Charter Toolkit can support more people, communities, and campaigns collaborating on the Great Lakes Commons vision. We welcome your feedback on how these resources can be adopted, improved, and expanded.

This Charter Toolkit currently includes: the Charter Declaration in 5 Great Lakes languages; native and non-native water governance introductions; ways-of-knowing workshop outlines; a series of water-commons conversation starters and concepts; and a set of community organizing practices.

Add your support for the Great Lakes Commons Charter and explore this Charter Toolkit. Help transform this set of resources into sources of healing between the waters and those who inherit and pass them on. Widen the circle with us.


The Commission For Environmental Cooperation's North American Partnership for Environmental Community Action program has provided the funding for this project.

Photo: Sinéad Ó Raifeartaigh

Photo: Sinéad Ó Raifeartaigh