As the Great Lakes Commons initiative braids public trust and Indigenous laws for protecting water, new ideas are emerging.
Let's look at 2 examples.
In this podcast, Harjap Grewal from the Council of Canadians analyses the new Water Sustainability Act in British Columbia. He highlights the distinction between a water-commodity and a water-commons. Selling millions of litres of groundwater to millionaire companies for pennies is pure exploitation ($2.25 for a million litres actually). A classic tale of only seeing water as a resource and a public asset to be stolen from. The new Act also does a terrible job of empowering communities to protect local watersheds and honouring and negotiating treaties with First Nations who have not ceded much of B.C. to any colonial government.
In this article, Larry Commodor from the Soowahlie, Sto:lo Nation analyses the media (and sometimes environmental) framing the government sell-off of groundwater permits. He asks, "how did my people's traditional land and resources become something that belongs to all British Columbians?"
A transformative approach to water relations can't keep ignoring the sovereignty of First Nations. Using the strategy of "our water" or "Canada's water" is deeply flawed.
How can a water-commons make & honour treaties, while also protecting water as a Public Trust? How can a water-commons learn and benefit from a rising commons movement and Idle No More? How can we start the re-commonsification and re-indigenization of the Great Lakes and see how these concepts are not only compatible, but fruit of a common seed?
Your thoughts are needed on this one.