Both in research and practice Deborah is engaged in the subjects of water and regional or watershed sustainability. Flowing through all of her research is an interest in how legal and policy structures (1) facilitate or impede us from adapting to changing ecological conditions, and (2) shape decision-making through governance processes. It is adaptive governance that assists us to respond to socioecological conditions, and law – indigenous, customary community, municipal, provincial and federal – plays a foundational role in how well any watershed community responds over time or to specific events.
Deborah is privileged to be associated with both the Faculty of Law and School of Environmental Studies (Faculty of Social Sciences) at the University of Victoria. She teaches in the areas of land and water regulation and law, including water law, municipal law, and the Environmental Law Clinic – Intensive course. She also facilitated a unique field course in environmental law in the Central Coast at the Hakai Institute on Calvert Island from 2011-2015, and is committed to field course-based learning. As the Acting Executive Director with the Environmental Law Centre at UVic, she supervises students working on environmental law projects for community organization and First Nation clients (see www.elc.law.uvic.ca). Her work as a municipal and environmental lawyer influences her teaching and she typically expects students to complete course work – legal memos or research papers – on topics that are currently relevant for municipal, First Nation or community organization staff. All of her courses explore how colonial law interacts with or has an impact on Indigenous laws and communities.