Merrell-Ann Phare is a lawyer, writer and the founding Executive Director of the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER), a national First Nation charitable environmental organization. Merrell-Ann has recently been appointed as a commissioner on the International Joint Commission (IJC) which is guided by the Boundary Waters Treaty.
Why you should care:
Have you ever met someone that is so smart and so accomplished and yet so engaging in their personhood that every time you see them is memorable? That is how it is with Merrell-Ann Phare. She is not a flash in the pan expert, but someone that will dazzle you with her in depth knowledge of water, the law and Indigenous rights. So if you get a chance to hear her, like on this podcast, you would be wise to listen.
Water is on the mind of everyone these days as we see flooding, drought and extreme weather events across Canada and the globe. This is a moment in time when we must tackle these issues and we must tackle them together.
Merrell-Ann discusses her experience across Canada using the Collaborative Consent Model where agreements were reached in areas that are incredibly polarized and where problems are considered intractable.
According to Merrell-Ann the time has come for all levels of government to find new ways to address their shared interests and the Collaborative Leadership Initiative is one way to do just that.
On today’s podcast
In this episode I sit down with Merrell-Ann Phare, a lawyer, writer and the founding Executive Director of the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER), a First Nation charitable environmental organization. Merrell-Ann has recently been appointed as a commissioner on the International Joint Commission.
Merrell-Ann discusses her time in law school and the moment when she decided to dedicate her career and her life’s work to furthering Indigenous rights.
Merrell-Ann discusses what is possible when new approaches that allow everyone a place at the table are explored from the onset to get agreement on really tough issues.
In her time serving as the Chief Negotiator for the Government of the Northwest Territories, Merrell-Ann shares her experience in bringing diverse groups of people together and create a process that allowed all parties to have their hand on the pen. This resulted in a pivotal transboundary water agreement in the Mackenzie River Basin considered by many to the gold standard.
During our conversation, Merrell-Ann also discusses the importance of moving the high-level agreement and recommendations such as the United Nations Rights of the Indigenous People (UNDRIP) and the 94 Calls to Action in Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) into concrete actions.
Thorough her numerous roles in her long career and advocacy, Merrell-Ann is a true boots-on-the-ground practitioner and who consistently puts vision into action.
Over the past two years, Merrell-Ann has led the Collaborative Leadership Initiative – a governance initiative that brought 12 Chiefs and 16 Mayors and Reeves to the table to begin forging a new relationship and path forward, together.
The most water decision making happens at the ground level. There is so much unexercised power between Indigenous people and their local municipal neighbours in their authorities and jurisdictions they have.
It started though with those Chiefs, mayors and reeves having to recognize, and seeing if they did recognize, or agree, that the status quo wasn’t good enough anymore.
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