Policy Sectors

Water Carriers: Phase 2

About Phase 2

Indigenous Services Canada, through the help of NWAC, is engaging Indigenous Women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ to amplify their voices in issues of water by promoting them as the rightful carriers and protectors of water.



Phase 2 of the project focused on engaging Indigenous Women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals on their traditional water knowledge and teaching, their knowledge and experience with access to clean and safe water, their experiences with impacts of climate change with particular focus on water and their recommendations for conservation and protection of navigable waters and environment.

During the engagement process, NWAC sought opinions of Indigenous Women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals from 13 regions and territories of Canada, among other things, on what roles they can play in issues of Water Governance.

13 Sharing Circles were conducted between August and November 2022 with the help of NWAC’s Provincial Territorial Member Organizations (PTMA). An additional 2 Interviews were conducted with community Knowledge Keepers to further represent the voices of Indigenous Women, girls, and gender diverse individuals on the topic.

The information gathered through these engagement processes will be used to develop reports highlighting regionalized issues, the matters of concerns (related to water) to indigenous communities within those regions and their recommendations for inclusion of Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse individuals in decision-making


Importance of the Water Carriers Project

Water insecurity is widespread throughout Indigenous communities across Canada. For example, in November of 2022, there were 31 long term drinking water advisories in effect in over 27 communities (in Canada), all of which comprise of indigenous populations, on reserves or elsewhere. More than 28 Indigenous communities were also under short term drinking water advisories. There were more than 10 Do Not Consume (DNC) advisories established in five Canadian provinces.

Water insecurity can have disastrous impacts on the most vulnerable population in any community. WG2STGD+ People are often among this vulnerable group. Indigenous WG2STGD+ People, in both Traditional Roles and in roles as Water Carriers, are often the first to be affected by water related issues arising in the household, as they are the ones with primary contact to water.

Presenting the voices of Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals in a national and regional scale will help push their agendas and issues to government entities. The distribution of information on women’s roles as Water Carriers in their community will allow for sharing of traditional knowledge, encouraging more women to stand-up and advocate for their inclusion in decision making around water management which could help to reduce inequalities in socio-economic and political structures overtime.


Engagement Sessions: Regions, Dates and Timetables

Table 1: Water Carriers Sharing Circle Sessions:


No of Participants in Attendance





20th September, 2022




22nd September, 2022




26th September, 2022


British Columbia


29th September, 2022




3rd October, 2022




5th October, 2022


Newfoundland and Labrador


11th October, 2022


Prince Edward Island


14th October, 2022


Nova Scotia


17th October, 2022


New Brunswick


21st October, 2022




24th October, 2022


Northwest Territories


28th October, 2022


Yukon Territory


1st November, 2022



Table 2: Elder Engagements

Elder/Knowledge Keeper



Suzanne Smoke

9th February, 2023


Crystal Semaganis

10th February, 2023


Linking Phase 1 to Phase 2

Phase 2 of the Water Carriers project is a continuation of the work conducted in Phase 1. Phase 1 of the project focused on the following areas:

  • Understanding Who are Water Carriers and what it means to be one.
  • Water is Life
  • Indigenous Culture and its relationship to Water
  • Water is more than a resource.

To tackle the objects of Phase 2, NWAC engaged Indigenous communities across Canada in order to identify, the role of Water Carriers in their communities and concerns related to its sustainability and future. The engagement activities with the communities involved two data collection methods:

  • Virtual Round Table Discussions
  • One on one interviews

Purpose of the Engagements

The engagements conducted help understand the perspectives of indigenous women, girls and gender diverse individuals on issues related to water use, availability, issues, and governance in their communities. Understanding these concerns will allow us to develop future programs and activities that will tackle the identified issues and will also serve to the larger goal of capacity building.


Target Audience

All data collection methods used, target:

  1. Indigenous Women Elders, Knowledge Keepers that can represent the views of their community and acquire knowledge on Water Carriers,
  2. Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse professionals that actively work with organizations within or outside their communities on issues of water and climate,
  3. Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse individuals that are active members of their respective communities.

Engagement Activities

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  • No virtual roundtable activity

  • No sharing circle activity

Engagement Reports

Water Carriers Survey Report 2023

Water Carriers Survey Report 2023, Jul 2023

Full EN
Emerging Themes: Water Carriers Phase 2 Building Capacity Infosheet

Emerging Themes: Water Carriers Phase 2 Building Capacity Infosheet, Jul 2023

Full EN FR
Emerging Themes: Water Carriers Phase 2 Building Capacity

Emerging Themes: Water Carriers Phase 2 Building Capacity, Feb 2023

Summary EN FR
Water Carriers: E-Newsletter Issue 7

Water Carriers: E-Newsletter Issue 7, Feb 2023

Full EN FR