Press Releases

CBU Faculty Working to Integrate Indigenous and Western Knowledge for Effective Water Management in Canada

Several Cape Breton University academics, along with two Cape Bretoners affiliated with CBU, are set to take part in a national research project led by Principal Investigator Heather Castleden from Dalhousie University that will determine the most effective ways to integrate Indigenous and Western knowledge for water management in Canada. Their research will provide Indigenous communities, researcher, and decision makers with knowledge to effectively and respectfully approach the management of Canada’s water resources.

Many First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities in Canada face significant water management challenges. Historically, government agencies and researchers have relied on a Western science and engineering approach to these challenges, with limited success. The potential of successfully applying Indigenous knowledge and methodologies to issues of water quality, accessibility and treatment is being increasingly recognized as valuable in Indigenous communities and beyond.

“New approaches and frameworks led by Indigenous communities that reflect Indigenous worldviews and understandings of water, and incorporate leading scientific and management approaches that understand local contexts and local priorities, are urgently needed," says Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo Willox, Tier II Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Healthy Communities at Cape Breton University. "This project aims to respond to these needs by bringing together an inter-disciplinary group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from across Canada at a National Water Gathering and learn from the shared experiences and collective wisdom.”

In addition to Dr. Cunsolo Willox, who will serve as Co-Investigator and Co-Lead of the Inuit component, CBU representation includes Dr. Bob Bailey, Professor of Biology, as a member of the National Advisory Committee and Core Research Team, and Tuma Young, Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies, as an expert member at the Water Gathering and representing Stephen Augustine, Dean of Unama’ki College and Aboriginal Learning. Dr. Cheryl Bartlett, CBU Professor Emerita, will serve as a Project Research Advisor, while CBU Honourary Doctorate Albert Marshall and Clifford Paul, both from Mi’kmaq communities in Unama’ki (Cape Breton), will also serve as expert members at the Water Gathering.

For more information on the project visit