Secwépemc Water Governance: strengthening relationships to water, land, and people

Authors: Melpatkwa Matthew*,
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Environment, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: Secwépemc, Indigenous, water, land, governance, stewardship
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 21
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Secwépemc people in southern interior British Columbia have fostered relationships to land and water for millennia. Colonial and capitalist forces have disrupted Secwépemc people’s relationships to land and water and have transformed the way Secwépemc people see themselves as environmental stewards to Secwepemcu’lecw (Secwépemc Nation). I draw on stories and experiences of Secwépemc youth, educators, Elders, and family to trace Secwépemc water governance challenges and how Secwépemc people are re-envisioning their relationships to water and land. Grounding my work within Secwépemc methodologies of place and culture I ask: How are Secwépemc people (re)envisioning themselves as contemporary Secwépemc people, living amongst settlers and non-Indigenous people upholding their responsibility to Secwepemcul’ecw? Additionally, how are Secwépemc people strategizing Secwépemc water knowledge transmission to (re)establish water stewardship? By centering Secwépemc voices I bring into view the strategies Secwépemc people are deploying to mobilize, transform, and strengthen our relationships to each other and to land and water. These findings expand on Indigenous geography and establish an understanding of the ways Secwépemc and Indigenous people engage with environmental stewardship and are a part (or not) of environmental decision-making and governance.

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