In this activity, students decide whether water should be granted legal rights. Students explore how Indigenous perspectives and relationships with water are influencing how water is viewed and protected.
For more details, read the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The term, environmental personhood, is a legal concept that assigns certain environmental entities (e.g., rivers, trees) the status of a legal person. This assigns to these entities the rights, protections, privileges, responsibilities, and legal liability of a legal personality. This concept came from legal cases focused on the protection of nature, often through Indigenous worldviews.
The following websites might be helpful in starting and guiding thinking around water being granted legal rights:
These materials were created with guidance from Indigenous educators, subject matter experts and thought leaders to help draw upon important teachings, learnings, and Indigenous perspectives.
For centuries, the traditional western view of water has often been focused on its value as a resource. Indigenous people have a unique relationship with the waters of British Columbia. Since time immemorial, water has played a sacred role and is seen as a living entity. How water is used must be carefully considered with a view towards not just the immediate need and impact, but the needs and perspectives of generations to follow.
We are dedicated to deep listening and respectfully highlighting Indigenous ways of knowing in the materials we provide B.C. educators. If you have any feedback for us on these activities, or suggestions for others, please email email@example.com. We would love to hear from you.
The design of the worksheets in this activity was a collaborative effort with Indigenous artist Kelli Clifton. Kelli Clifton was born and raised in Prince Rupert, British Columbia and is Gitga’at from the community of Hartley Bay. Clifton is interested in using her artwork as a form of storytelling—especially in relation to her Ts’msyen language (Sm’algyax), her coastal upbringing and her experiences as an Indigenous woman. Clifton currently lives in her home community where she continues to practice her art and teaches Sm’algyax at a local high school. Learn more about Clifton's art on her Facebook page.
BC Hydro exists to serve British Columbians by providing clean, reliable and affordable electricity. We recognize that maintaining and developing the system has impacts on the lives and interests of Indigenous People. To support our move towards true and lasting reconciliation, BC Hydro will acknowledge past wrongs, listen to Indigenous perspectives and seek shared understanding with First Nations communities and governments.
Learn more about our Statement of Indigenous Principles.
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