Exploring the Influences of Institutions on Water Governance and Management: A First Nation Case Study
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Water is vital for the lives of First Nations people, but many First Nations’ communities are persistently dealing with unsafe drinking water. Over the years studies have repeatedly conveyed the deplorable drinking water conditions of First Nations. These conditions undermine the economic, social, and cultural health of these communities. Despite the ongoing attempts by various actors to change these conditions; water related concerns remain a major issue for First Nations across Canada. The intent of this research is to explore water institutions and how they are influencing water governance and management in a First Nations context. Oneida Nation of the Thames (hereafter referred to as Oneida) is used as a case study for this research because of the current drinking water concerns and the institutions commonly used in governing and managing water resources in First Nations throughout Ontario. To accomplish this research, Ostrom’s Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework was used to analyze how institutions are influencing water governance and management in Oneida. Through this analysis, an opportunity was afforded to describe the water institutions (formal and informal) and to enhance the understanding of how these institutions are guiding the behavior of people involved in water governance and management in Oneida. This research revealed several issues that are influencing the overall performance of the institutional arrangements including 1) the jurisdictional division of responsibilities to manage water resources in the Thames watershed; 2) the deficiency in public trust between the community and Elected Council; and 3) the inequity in the involvement of Traditional Council and women in water governance and management.