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Professor makes a presentation at major science conference on water use

By Dale Johnson Posted: March 16, 2016 4:00 p.m.

Dr. Carrie Bourassa calls this “the most prestigious event I have been asked to speak at by far.”
Dr. Carrie Bourassa calls this “the most prestigious event I have been asked to speak at by far.” Photo: U of R Photography

A professor of Indigenous Health Studies at the First Nations University of Canada was a guest presenter at a major science conference in Whistler, B.C.

Dr. Carrie Bourassa was a speaker at the Frontiers of Science conference, being held from March 14 to 17, 2016.

“There are only 50 scholars from the United Kingdom and Canada invited to present at this event, so I am very honoured and humbled to be invited to present,” she says.

Bourassa’s topic was water governance: specifically, Two-Eyed Seeing and the Ethics of Indigenous Community-based Research: Building Research Partnerships Focused on Sustainable Water Governance and Indigenous Law at the Frontiers of Science.  

“The Program on Water Governance at UBC is currently conducting a study of Indigenous water co-governance in Canada, focusing on British Columbia and Alberta,” Bourassa says.

This study is funded by a grant from the Water Economics, Policy and Governance network. Partners include the University of British Columbia, West Moberly First Nation Northwest Indian College and the First Nations University of Canada.

“Working in partnership with the Indigenous-led NGO Keepers of the Water, our project focuses on three questions: (1) how are co-governance (e.g. legal, regulatory) regimes for Indigenous water rights evolving; (2) what are the advantages, disadvantages, and impacts on decision-making; and (3) how could distributed governance and collaboration, in the context of emerging and evolving legal regimes for Indigenous water rights, enhance sustainable water governance?” she explains.

Bourassa thinks this research could have long-term impacts on improving the quality of life for Indigenous people.

“Our work will result in strengthened partnerships with our partners, capacity building and impact on policy change. We will also be examining the link between Indigenous water rights and health. Currently no communities from Saskatchewan are involved, however, I feel that if I am involved in this project, it can eventually expand to Saskatchewan since we are developing a model that could be adapted in other territories.”

Bourassa is very pleased to be able to make a presentation on her research.

“I am happy to be able to present this research on behalf of the communities I am working with. It is important to present not for me but for the communities I work with, by and for.”  

Bourassa also says that being able to speak about her research at such a major conference also reflects well on the organizations that have supported her academic career.

“Being invited to present at an event like this and the fact that I am a University of Regina alumni, hold adjunct appointments at the U of R and work at the First Nations University of Canada, a federated college of the U of R, most definitely raises their profiles,” she says.

And on a personal level, Bourassa says: “In 2014 I was inaugurated into the Royal Society of Canada, College of New Scholars, Scientists and Artists and was asked to speak at the opening gala. That was pretty special - but I think this is the most prestigious event that I have been asked to speak at by far! I am very honoured to represent the team and the communities.”