Water Back: A defining movement
Foregrounding Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Water research
The Land Back movement has called for global solidarity to address the oppression and dispossession of Indigenous Peoples’ lands and territories. The alienation of Indigenous Peoples from Water has largely been absent from this call to action. However, there is a growing consensus among Indigenous Water Protectors who assert that there cannot be Land Back without Water Back.
In a collaborative response to this emerging movement, Dr. Kelsey Leonard, professor in the Faculty of Environment and Canada Research Chair, with an international group of Indigenous researchers have offered a definition of Water Back for Water research.
For the Indigenous author team, for communities, and within the primarily English-language, Indigenous-oriented and -produced research, Water Back means the return of Water and kin to Indigenous governance in a way that empowers the resurgent Indigenous Water relationships that are integral to Indigenous cultural, biological, spiritual and political sovereignty; this includes cosmogony, ceremony, access, law and policies. Water Back in this way is allowing Water to rematriate relationships with Indigenous Peoples, the Lands that are nourished by Water, and the more-than-human relatives that live within and care for Water. Water Back is the restoration of humanity’s responsibility to care for Water and the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ inherent relationships, connections, rights and responsibilities to Water.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is co-ordinated within our Office of Indigenous Relations.