Why Water?

For generations, the relationship between Aboriginal people and the rest of Canada has been damaged. Can water be the common ground that begins to reconcile this relationship?

We think so. Watch the films. Teach the Curriculum. Begin the dialogue.

A Sacred Relationship


The Sacred Relationship is a research, film and educational project that explores how reconciling the relationship between Indigenous people and the rest of Canada can protect our water. The road map for reconciliation is based on the Cree philosophy of Wahkowtowin – the rules that guide our relationships with everything around us.

Through research and ceremony with Cree Elders, Metis woman and Principal Investigator Dr. Patti LaBoucane-Benson developed a model to represent an interconnected worldview that demonstrates the importance of building and repairing relationships.

The Spiral HD

Watch Dr. LaBoucane-Benson explain the model


This peer-reviewed article describes the worldview and sacred relationship of the Cree people in Alberta, as well as how colonial policy has created despair (pomewin) in Aboriginal communities and a state of disconnectedness from the water. It concludes with the presentation of a framework for the development of policies that seek to repair the relationship between Aboriginal people and mainstream society. To read the entire publication click the link below.


The Faces Behind the Documentary

“When we are born, it is water that comes first. Birth is sacred and so is the water.”

George Brertton, Cree Elder, Saddle Lake First Nation

“When you respect water, that water will respect you back. If you don’t respect water, that water will take you – that’s when you drown.”

Leo Pard, Blackfoot Spiritual Elder, Piikani Nation

“I think once we understand each other a bit more clearly, we can tell the rest of the people, this is what`s happening to our water and how to take care of it - because it`s taken care of us up till now.”

Violet Poitras, Nakota/Cree Elder, Paul First Nation

“You hear this saying all the time, “What kind of world are we leaving for our children?” I ask, “What kind of child are we leaving for the world?”

Fred Campiou, Ceremonialist, Driftpile Cree Nation

“There’s some deeper water ethic that we need and the closest I see to that water ethic is what I see in older Native people.”

Dr. David Schindler, Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology, University of Alberta

“I think water is probably an issue where we (Aboriginal community and scientific community) can find common ground for discussion….it is something we all can stand behind.”

Dr. Alexander Zehnder, Scientific Director – Water Resources – Alberta Innovates