Abstract

National and international policies have called for the inclusion of Indigenous peoples and the uptake of Indigenous knowledge alongside Western knowledge in natural resource management. Such policy decisions have led to a recent proliferation of research projects seeking to apply both Indigenous and Western knowledge in water research and management. While these policies require people with knowledge from both Western and Indigenous perspectives to collaborate and share knowledge, how best to create and foster these partnerships is less understood. To elicit this understanding, 17 semi-structured interviews were completed with academic researchers from Canada and Australia who conduct integrative water research. Participants, most of whom were non-Indigenous, were asked to expand on their experiences in conducting integrative water research projects, and findings were thematically analyzed. Our findings suggest that Indigenous and Western knowledge systems influence how one relates to water, and that partnerships require a recognition and acceptance of these differences. We learned that community-based participatory research approaches, and the associated tenets of fostering mutual trust and community ownership for such an approach, are integral to the meaningful engagement that is essential for developing collaborative partnerships to implement both Indigenous and Western knowledge systems and better care for water.

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