This paper is based on traditional knowledge policy research undertaken over the last 15 years with First Nations in Ontario. First Nations traditional knowledge- based responses to the water crisis evoke an alternative narrative to the dominant discourse. Canadian governments are focused primarily on scientific and technological approaches to resolving water quality issues. In contrast, First Nations are concerned mostly with the recognition of Aboriginal and treaty rights in relation to water. Application of such rights, as expressed by Elders and other traditional knowledge holders, leads to a much more holistic approach to water governance, one that involves fulfilling inherent responsibilities to ensuring water is protected. An overview of key elements of traditional knowledge as they relate to water governance and protection is provided. These are contrasted with highlights of Canadian government responses to water quality concerns across Canada. In order for progress to be made in the future, a nation- to- nation approach between Canadian governments and First Nations is needed.