Article Title

Implementing Indigenous and Western Knowledge Systems (Part 2): “You Have to Take a Backseat” and Abandon the Arrogance of Expertise


Despite innovative technological "solutions" to address ongoing water crises in Indigenous communities, significant disparities persist in Canada. Financial investment in infrastructure is necessary, but it is hardly sufficient to address the real problem: entrenched colonialism. One of the greatest challenges in decolonizing research is to prevent that research from reproducing the very categories it is seeking to critique and dismantle. We share findings from thematically-analyzed interviews with academic and community-based researchers who conducted water research with a stated intent to implement Western and Indigenous knowledge systems. Findings revealed that while there is co-learning, ontological and epistemological assumptions carried into these relationships often impede truly integrative practice. Respondents shared how they worked through these persistent barriers of a colonial system.


Tremendous thanks go to those who agreed to participate in our study; your willingness to share your experiences allowed us to undertake the research described herein. Thanks also to our National Advisory Committee as well as to those who participated in the Water Gatherings for your significant guidance on our interview protocol, our preliminary analysis, and our discussion about our findings. We particularly wish to thank Mr. Guy Freedman, Elders Barbara Dumont-Hill, Maria Campbell, and Albert Dumont for helped us undertake this work with good hearts and minds, helping us to see ourselves, and our relationship to water, in new and wonderful ways. Thank you to all those who passed on their knowledge from generation to generation, to those who shared this knowledge with us, and to those who will take this knowledge forward. The authors would also like to thank the Canadian Water Network for funding this Knowledge Integration project, and we would like to thank the Canadian Water Network’s Research Management Committee for their ongoing feedback throughout the project.

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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