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Professor Sara Seek


With the human population set to reach seven billion people and society’s awareness of its effects and demands upon the environment, there exists a general consciousness that new thinking is required to “save” the earth’s resources. This is especially true with fresh water, a limited and highly sought after natural resource. In North American, the Great Lakes Basin contains 20% the world’s entire freshwater. Yet, before European colonisation of the Americas, the indigenous peoples of these lands lived with a set of environmental values which respected the land as a living thing. The sources of fresh waters were viewed as the lifeblood of the land.

With the colonisation and displacement of indigenous views and values, British common law was implanted. It grew and evolved to meet the needs of what is today the country of Canada. A prime example of the law’s evolution is evident when looking at the way the law has dealt with water over time. Today, a tangled web of law exists.

This thesis explores the issue of how First Nations in the province of Ontario are included in the Great Lakes Basin and St. Lawrence River water governance, and how property law and legal theory have shaped the current management structure.



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