About the Water Project

Water – The Sacred Relationship, is the result of a three year research project by Native Counselling Services of Alberta that features a documentary film, educational curriculum and a public policy research article. Guided by a circle of Cree Elders and led by a team of Aboriginal and Western Scientists, The Sacred Relationship explores how reconciling the relationship between Aboriginal people and the rest of Canada can lead to healthier water.

Featuring film clips from Aboriginal Elders and top Western Scientists, The Sacred Relationship explores:

  • Indigenous Worldview
  • Water & Ceremony
  • European Settlement & Colonization
  • Reconciliation
  • Common Ground between Indigenous and Western Science

The Research Team

Principal Investigator – Dr. Patti LaBoucane-Benson

Patti brings a PhD in Human Ecology to The Sacred Relationship as well as an understanding of Indigenous worldview, historic trauma, healing and reconciliation. Patti is Métis and worked with Cree Elders around developing a model that represents Cree worldview, the interconnected nature of relationships, and the impacts of colonization.

As Executive Producer and Principal Investigator for The Sacred Relationship, Patti brings a passionate and critical eye to both research and film. She ensures that proper protocol is followed and that the process used for gathering information is always respectful and that all research is approached with humility and rigour.

Co-Investigator – Dr. Allen Benson

Allen was the initial vision and spirit behind The Sacred Relationship. Allen has long been a supporter of using research and film to tell the stories of Aboriginal people. Allen believes that the resources created with The Sacred Relationship have the power to change public perception, influence government policy and educate both Aboriginal and non Aboriginal people.

As a traditional Cree man who grew up in Beaver Lake, Alberta, Allen has spent his lifetime building relationships and seeking common ground between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Allen says that by building relationships and focusing on the things we have in common, we can conquer many of the societal challenges we face today.

Co-Investigator – Dr. Ginger Gibson

Dr. Ginger Gibson was a co-investigator for The Sacred Relationship and brought her experience in both Western Science and the Aboriginal community to the project. Ginger brought leading western scientists to the project; which helped shape the reconciliation message within the Sacred Relationship. Ginger also contributed to developing both the Grades 5 and 6 Science Curriculum for the project.

Ginger currently works as a negotiator and implementation coordinator for First Nations on land use and mining issues. Her focus is on social and cultural policy and impact assessment negotiation, consultation and implementation of Impact and Benefit Agreements.

Filmmaker – Greg Miller

Greg is the director and co-producer of The Sacred Relationship. On location for all the filming, Greg brought an ability to find the story, ensuring that the documentaries were beautiful, evidence-based and connected with the audience. He is skilled at creating an environment whereby the research and video making process is grounded in good relationships and humour. Greg led a team of talented Editors and Cinematographers to bring the spirit of The Sacred Relationship to the screen. He was also the Editor for the 15 Educational videos that are featured in the Curriculum.

Curriculum Development – Charlene Bearhead

Charlene Bearhead is currently the Program Manager for Education and Community Reconciliation and the national coordinator for Project of Heart, both of which are hosted by Native Counselling Services of Alberta (NCSA). A primary focus in this work is the education of Canadians on the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada, as well as the impact of federal government policy on various cultural groups throughout the history of Canada. The goal of both movements is to inspire, support and facilitate the building of positive and respectful relationships between all Canadians. Bearhead has also just completed writing the lesson plans for the education program Water – The Sacred Relationship.

Research Funded by Alberta Innovates