The province of Alberta is currently reviewing its approach to the allocation, licensing and transfer of water rights. Several groups of experts have submitted their recommendations to the government, who has also announced that it would hold public consultations on the proposed reforms. The debate on the future of water rights appears to pay scant, if any, attention to the potential rights to water asserted by First Nations. This article analyzes the potential for the existence of Aboriginal rights to water, briefly examines their nature, and suggests that the province should fully engage Aboriginal peoples in the current debate on water rights and in water management decision-making and water stewardship.
Original workshop funded by the Alberta Law Foundation and the Canadian Boreal Initiative. Resources is funded by Nexen.