Legal Personhood of Lake Winnipeg


This project aims to explore the concept of legal personhood and the best way to recognize the rights of nature for Lake Winnipeg.

In collaboration with the Lake Winnipeg Indigenous Collective (LWIC), we will engage with Indigenous communities in the north and south basins of the area using lenses of community engagement, shared responsibility, watershed management and policy. The goal of recognizing the legal personhood of Lake Winnipeg is to reimagine our responsibility to nature in order to regulate industrial outflows and contamination in the lake, not to achieve perfect water quality. As envisioned by Elders and our partners, exploring the possibilities presented by legal personhood to the natural world is one step in a greater process that strengthens our relationship to water.

Led by LWIC and Decolonizing Water, this work is undertaken in partnership with Grand Council Treaty #3 and the Blackfoot Confederacy. Spanning 3-4 years, the project deliverables include:

  • A series of informational videos outlining the concept of legal personhood
  • A series of community engagement sessions with LWIC communities
  • A summit in summer 2022
  • A map of the entire Lake Winnipeg Watershed
  • A documentary on the process of exploring the legal personhood of Lake Winnipeg
  • Ongoing work to establish a system of multi-nation governance
  • Ongoing work to examine watershed management and policy within the Lake Winnipeg watershed
Lake Winnipeg
Lake Winnipeg

Lake Winnipeg

Cree laws project


Working with elders and leaders of the Misipawistik Cree Nation (MCN), the goal of this project is to describe the Cree legal principles in a way that is accessible and understandable to all. These laws have always and continue to shape the MCN community. The principles are a way of living that is unique to the land, the water, and the people of Misipawistik Cree Nation.

With this knowledge, community members will continue to create guidelines for conduct and decision-making in their territory.


The Nibi Declaration of Treaty #3 outlines the relationship and responsibility that all Anishinaabe people have with water (Nibi) within Treaty #3 territory. It also speaks to the responsibilities and relationships that others have within the territory. The declaration is based on the understanding that we all have a relationship with water, and provides teachings to clarify the responsibilities and collaborative relationships needed to protect water for future generations.

The Nibi Declaration recognizes that water is alive, has spirit, and is connected to all life. Recognizing the spirit of Nibi is a vital part of the decision-making and water governance process. It also voices how Nibi is vital to all life, and that we need it to live a good life. Nibi unites us, and the sacred relationship and responsibility Anishinaabe have to Nibi means that we must work to heal Nibi. Anishinaabe women in particular have a special relationship to water and must look after the water.

In 2019 the Nibi Decleration was unanimously ratified by the Anishinaabe Nation of Treaty #3.

Treaty 3 Nibi Declaration
Waves womens council


NIBI gathering
Nibi gathering
Every year, elders, community members, and allies gather over four days to honour the sacredness of water and our responsibility to Nibi (water).

Rooted in Anishinabee tradition and ceremony, the four-day gathering takes place at the Manito Api Site, on Treaty No. 3 territory, within the Whiteshell Provincial Park.

The first gathering took place in 2013 and since then has focused on themes like Nibi Nagamonan – Water Songs, honouring the sacredness of birthing water, and Nibi Onje Biimaadiziwin – Water is life or Everything needs water to live.

The gathering is an opportunity for healing, unity, and coming together. It is a place where participants can feel inspired to commit to honouring and protecting the sacredness of water.