“Far too often, governments in Canada have demonstrated that they place little value on the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples and the revitalization of their cultures and traditions,” Tara Scurr, business and human rights campaigner with Amnesty International Canada, said in a statement Thursday.
There is also concern the changes that were made that allowed some of the advisories to be lifted were just temporary fixes. There are long-term, structural problems with the water treatment systems in many Indigenous communities that have not been addressed. Many of these places lack the proper equipment needed to remedy the operational issues with which they are confronted.
Representatives for the town of Pictou, N.S., did not learn the proposed route for a new effluent pipe from Northern Pulp would cross their watershed until the plan was made public in media reports. Officials from the pulp mill met with Pictou Landing First Nation officials and fishermen's associations several weeks ago to detail the new proposed route after problems were discovered with the original route.
Today, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, congratulated Horse Lake First Nation on the opening of their new water treatment system. The new water treatment system in Horse Lake is critical to the community's efforts to ensure future generations have access to clean water. The new system features dual media filtration, reverse osmosis membranes, and ultra-violet light radiation.
Today, Randy Boissonnault, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, visited Kehewin Cree Nation and congratulated Chief Brenda Vanguardand the entire community on the official sod turning for their new water treatment system. This new water treatment system is critical to the community's efforts to lift their long-term drinking water advisory.
Recently elected Xeni Gwet’in chief Jimmy Lulua doesn’t have running water in his own house. He brushes his teeth from a cup. It is a daily reminder of how precious water is to his people — but, he noted, “It’s not by choice.”
“We’ve never been high on the government’s priority list,” he said. “We live in a third world country in one of the richest countries in the world.”
A green dot. That’s the symbol the federal government uses for this First Nation in the Gatineau River Valley. An online map that tracks one of the Liberal administration’s signature pledges — to rid First Nations of warnings that their tap water is dirty and unsafe — marks Kitigan Zibi with a green dot, like a traffic signal, indicating Mission Accomplished.
Tellingly, Ms. Philpott publicly declared last fall that her department’s mandate is to make itself “obsolete” by empowering Indigenous groups to gain long-asked-for independence in providing services to their own communities. It’s clear that the goal is to assist First Nations to expand their role in operating and maintaining their own water systems.
For the past 14 years, Colville Lake, N.W.T. has been under a boil water advisory.The reason isn't due to lack of access to a water treatment plant or proper training to operate it — the community doesn't bother to send water samples to the territorial government for sampling because residents believe their water is clean enough to drink straight from the lake.
Canada has an abundance of water for its size: It has 0.5 per cent of the world’s population but seven per cent of the world’s renewable freshwater supply.
From a global perspective, most Canadians are lucky, but the messages that emanate from academic and popular literature often paint an unsettling picture.