The autoethnography of an Ininiw from God's Lake, Manitoba, Canada: First Nation water governance flows from sacred Indigenous relationships, responsibilities and rights to aski

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Hill, Stewart
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The Ininiw of Manitou (God's) Sakahigan (Lake), now known as God's Lake First Nation (GLFN), are an Indigenous people of Turtle Island, now called North America. As a GLFN Ininiw, I tell my autoethnography, drawing on a half-century of experience, both personal and professional, as well as a literature review, government data, and fieldwork. The medicine wheel framework required that I consider the spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental aspects of GLFN's water governance. I applied another Medicine wheel teaching regarding the Indigenous learning process to analyze this data, which provided an analytical framework to systematically process the data through heart, mind, body, and spirit. This thesis provides abundant evidence that the Ininiw of GLFN did not "cede or surrender" water governance in their traditional territory. Living in a lake environment, the GLFN Ininiw have survived, lived, thrived, and governed the aski (land and water) granted by Manitou (Creator) for thousands of years according to natural law. Through Ininiw governance, we kept God's Lake pristine. As GLFN Ininiw people's Aboriginal and treaty rights to govern over the waters of our ancestral lands were never surrendered, the GLFN Ininiw hold this governance still. I argue that natural law requires Canada and Manitoba to cede governance over aski to the GLFN Ininiw for their traditional territory. To sustain all Creation, the Ininiw assert our sovereignty over water in our traditional territory as was granted by Manitou (Creator). This sacred pact with Manitou requires a shift in water governance to fall under First Nation self-government. This perspective requires water to be considered sacred and a health issue, rather than a technical or infrastructure issue. This reconstitution of water under the health jurisdiction will ensure safe drinking water and restore women's central role in its governance.
First Nation, Governance, Indigenous, Manitoba, North, Boreal forest, Autoethnography, Medicine wheel