Book cover image for: Water Rites: Reimagining Water in the West

Water Rites: Reimagining Water in the West

Edited by Jim Ellis

$15.99 CAD / $15.99 USD

168 pages, 45 illustrations

978-1-55238-997-3 (Paperback)

978-1-55238-999-7 (Institutional PDF)

978-1-55238-934-8 (ePub)

978-1-55238-935-5 (mobi)

May 2018

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About the Book

Beautifully illustrated with the work of Alberta artists and presented in full colour throughout, this is the story of how water flows through our lives and of the many challenges that threaten this essential resource.

What are the challenges surrounding water in Western Canada?

What are our rights to water? Does water itself have rights?

Water Rites: Reimagining Water in the West documents the many ways that water flows through our lives, connecting the humans, animals, and plants that all depend on this precious and endangered resource.

Essays from scholars, activists, environmentalists, and human rights advocates illuminate the diverse issues surrounding water in Alberta, including the right to access clean drinking water, the competing demands of the resource development industry and Indigenous communities, and the dwindling supply of fresh water in the face of human-caused climate change. Statements from community organizations detail the challenges facing watersheds, and the actions being taken to mitigate these problems. With a special focus on Environmental and Indigenous issues, Water Rites explores how deeply water is tied to human life.

These essays are complemented by full-colour portfolios of work by contemporary painters, photographers, and installation artists who explore our relation to water.  Reproductions of historical paintings, engravings and film stills demonstrate how water has shaped our country’s cultural imaginary from its beginnings, proving that water is a vital resource for our lives and our imaginations.

About the Editor

Jim Ellis is a professor of English at the University of Calgary and Director of the Calgary Institute for the Humanities.

With Contributions By:  Jim Ellis, Michelle Daigle, Warren Cariou, Helen Knott, Nancy Tousley, Jodi Hilty, Aerin Jacob, Hillary Young, Kelly Zenkenwich, Flora Giesbrecht, Leslie Sweder, David K. Laidlaw, Ciara McKeown, Josée Méthot, Amy Spark, Charles Tepperman, and the Alberta ecoTrust. 

Praise for Water Rites

Water Rights is an insightful, moving, beautiful book. Melding the scholarly with the narrative and the artistic, the volume provides a unique contribution to the literature around water security and well-being.

—Ingrid Leman Stefanovic, Great Plains Research

Visually cohesive and elegant . . . recommended for anyone seeking to environmental studies work with Native perspectives and instructors looking for holistic approaches to environmental issues.

—Ellen Ahlness, Electronic Green Journal

Interspersed with full-colour photographs, maps, and artwork, the chapters from fourteen contributors address a wonderfully wide range of water-related topics . . . By incorporating narratives documenting both pressing problems and collaborative solutions, the volume presents the reader with both a sense of urgency and the possibility of justice and change, bringing us one step closer to reimagining water in the west.

—Zander Albertson. BC Studies

Table of Contents


Introduction: Rethinking our Relations to Water

Jim Ellis

Embodying Kinship Responsibilities In and Through Nipi (Water)
Michelle Daigle

Petrography and Water: Artist’s Statement and Portfolio
Warren Cariou

Women, Water, Land: Writing from the Intersections
Helen Knott

Tanya Hartnett: The Poetics and Politics of Scarred/Sacred Water
Nancy Tousley

Y2Y: Conserving Headwaters
Jodi Hilty, Aerin Jacob, Hilary Young, Kelly Zenkewich

Elbow River Watershed Partnership
Flora Giesbrecht

Confluence: Artist’s Statement and Portfolio
Leslie Sweder

Indigenous Water Rights and Global Warming in Alberta
David K. Laidlaw

Watershed+: Rethinking Pulblic Art
Ciara McKeown

Swimming in Systems
Josée Méthot and Amy Spark

Glorie à l’Eau (Glory to Water) by Alberta Tessier
Charles Tepperman

Water Rights/Water Justice
Adrian Parr

Appendix A: UN Declaration on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation

Appendix B: UN Declaration the Rights of Indigenous Peoples