Alberta Innovates - Energy and Environment Solutions (AI-EES)

Alberta Innovates - Energy and Environment Solutions (AI-EES)

September 24, 2013 15:00 ET

Research Into Aboriginal Perspectives Leads to Documentary, New Curriculum and Policy Insight

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Sept. 24, 2013) - Today, Alberta Innovates - Energy and Environment Solutions (AI-EES) and the Native Counselling Services of Alberta released outcomes of a three-year research project focused on Aboriginal perspectives on water. The project, entitled, The Sacred Relationship, features a documentary film, grade five and six educational curriculum and research that provides a policy framework for rebuilding relationships.

"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," says Dr. Patti LaBoucane-Benson, the project's Principal Investigator.

"I think water is an issue where the Aboriginal community and scientific community can find common ground for discussion ... it is something we all can stand behind," says Dr. Alexander Zehnder, Scientific Director of Water Resources, AI-EES.

The documentary film, Water - The Sacred Relationship is a result of research and ceremony with Cree Elders as well as interviews and talking circles with Indigenous and Western Water Scientists. From this research Dr. LaBoucane-Benson developed a model to represent an interconnected worldview that demonstrates the importance of building and repairing relationships.

The peer reviewed research paper describes the worldview and sacred relationship of the Cree people in Alberta, as well as how colonial policy has created despair in Aboriginal communities as well as a state of disconnectedness from the water. The study concludes with the presentation of a framework for the development of policies that seek to repair the relationship between Aboriginal people and mainstream society.

The Sacred Relationship brings Aboriginal worldview into the classrooms of grade five and six students across Canada. A new curriculum developed as part of this project provides teachers with downloadable, easy-to-teach lesson plans based on series of fifteen educational videos. The videos feature perspectives on water from Aboriginal Elders, leaders and Western Scientists. Teachers can access:

  • Grade five Science - Wetland Eco-Systems: eleven lesson plans and six online videos
  • Grade five Social Studies - Histories and Stories of Ways of Life in Canada: four lesson plans and four online videos
  • Grade six Science - Evidence and Investigation: three Lesson Plans and three Online Videos
  • Grade six Social Studies - Citizens Participating in Decision Making: One Lesson Plan and One Online Video


Alberta Innovates - Energy and Environment Solutions (AI-EES) is the lead agency for energy and environmental research in Alberta. It is a catalyst to promote the development of innovative, integrated ways to convert Alberta's natural resources into market-ready, environmentally responsible energy and the sustainable management of Alberta's water resources. AI-EES brings together decision makers from government, industry and the resource community, as well as research and technology organizations, to develop solutions for the biggest challenges facing Alberta's energy and environment sectors.

Contact Information