Article Title

Square Peg, Round Hole: First Nations Drinking Water Infrastructure and Federal Policies, Programs, and Processes


Despite nearly a decade of targeted federal government efforts to provide potable water to First Nations communities in Canada, drinking water advisories and piped-water infrastructure gaps still persist. An in-depth understanding of technical practitioners’ perspectives and experiences with federal policies, programs, and processes (PPP) may provide unique insight into the challenges behind the issues. To meet this objective, we interviewed 16 First Nations technical staff within the geopolitical boundary of the province of Ontario. Results emphasize the role played by federal government-centric principles that shape policy, and the inflexible nature of the program execution format. This study provides a foundation for understanding the policy translation process and indicates action areas to create supportive policy for First Nations drinking water service provision.


The authors wish to thank the following organizations for their assistance: the Aboriginal Water and Wastewater Association of Ontario, the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation, and the Assembly of First Nations. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the First Nations technical practitioners who participated in the study, as well as Dr. Kim Anderson for her guidance and the journal reviewers for their comments. Project funding was generously provided by the Canadian Water Network. Researcher financial support was generously provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Engineers Canada. Please direct email correspondence to Jason McCullough (University of Guelph) at

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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