Square peg, round hole: Ontario First Nations technical staff perspectives on federal drinking water infrastructure policies, programs and processes

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McCullough, Jason
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University of Guelph

There is little understanding of federal policies, programs and processes (PPP) that structure and influence water infrastructure construction and water service delivery in First Nations communities in Canada. That First Nations face drinking water challenges is not new; however there is an acute cause for concern as recent federal funding initiatives have made limited gains. This thesis investigates the apparent disconnect between high-level PPP and ground-level outcomes through the perspectives of Ontario First Nations technical staff. Pioneering a unique approach to policy research, the thesis bridges elements of engineering, qualitative research and decolonizing methodologies to identify challenges and provide solutions. Specifically, participant interviews indicate incompatibilities between the PPP paradigm and the First Nations technical paradigm; a lack of accommodation for First Nations diversity; and a large separation between technical symptoms and their root causes. Three graphical tools, developed from the success factors and ideal vision findings, structure proposed PPP renewal.

A qualitative research investigation within the engineering field, involving decolonizing methodologies and an engineering problem-solving approach to tool development.
drinking water, policy, First Nations, INAC