Five Community Water Tales
“Tainted water and broken systems on Ontario’s First Nations reserves are jeopardizing health, burdening parents and caregivers, and exacerbating problems on reserves. First Nations people have the same human rights to adequate water and sanitation as all Canadians, but in practice cannot access them.” – Amanda Klasing, Senior Researcher, Women’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch
In 2015, Justin Trudeau first made a promise to solve all drinking water advisories on First Nations within five years. When Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister, there were 105 long-term boil water advisories on public systems on reserve. What are some First Nations communities that had long-term boil water advisories in the past but successfully resolved them? What are some particularly challenging and/or long cases of boil water advisories in First Nations communities? What are some potential solutions?
Lesson 3: Five Community Water Tales
Grade: 6-9 (Science, Social Studies, and Health)
Topic: Two communities which had long boil water advisories in the past but resolved their issues, three communities which are still struggling with particularly complicated and/or long boil water advisories.
Time: 5 Hours
Space requirement: Classroom, rooms to which different groups of students can go in order to practice and record their podcasts
Materials: Smartboard or computer and projector, paper, pens, access to computers with Internet, an app or access to a website that will record sound or some other way of recording podcasts
Objectives: Students will learn about First Nations communities that had long-standing boil water advisories and how those advisories were resolved. Students will also learn about First Nations communities that currently have long-standing boil water advisories that are complicated and/or long and considerations and potential resolutions related to those situations.
Keywords: Yellow Quill, Environmental Health Officer, Hydrogen Sulphide, Programmable Logic Controller, Short-circuit, Backwash, Particles, Algae, Bacteria, Protozoa, Viruses, Water Reservoir, Sewage Lagoons, Upflow Clarification, Downflow Granular Filtration, Conventional Water Treatment, Class Action Lawsuit, Integrated Biological and Reverse Osmosis Membrane (IBROM) Treatment Process, High-risk Surface Water Supply, Terminal Lake, Outflow, Evaporation, Dissolved Organic Compounds (DOC), Trihalomethanes (THMs), Carcinogenic, Disinfection Processes, Chlorine, Surface Water, Groundwater, Coagulation, Flocculation, Biological Filtration, Granulated Activated Charcoal, Distillation, Gravity Filtration, Mineral Bed, Calcium, Magnesium, Ceramic Filtration Material, Particle Removal, Bioavailable DOC Removal, Turbidity, Biologically Stable Water, RO Membranes, Chlorine Residuals, Distribution System, pH Adjustment, Corrosion Control, World Health Organization, Scabies, Eczema, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), Staph Infection, Antibiotics, Parasites, Mercury, Neurological Damage, Mercury Poisoning, Neuropsychological Disorder, Uranium, Disinfectant By-Products, Traditional Healing, Anion Exchange Devices, Cistern, Ojibway, Aqueduct, Peninsula, Design Phase, Economic Integration, Self-governance, Museum of Human Rights Violations
Teacher: Prepare for this lesson by finding the current number of long-term boil water advisories in First Nations communities (https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1506514143353/1533317130660), the current number of short-term boil water advisories in First Nations communities (https://www.canada.ca/en/indigenous-services-canada/services/short-term-drinking-water-advisories-first-nations-south-60.html), and the number of boil water advisories and do not consume orders in non-First Nations communities (http://www.watertoday.ca/) online.
1. Start by asking the students whether they think their own community’s drinking water is safe. Why do they think it is or it is not? If students state that their community’s drinking water is safe, ask them what this allows them to do that they would not be able to do if their community’s drinking water was not safe. If students state that their community’s drinking water is not safe, ask them what they are not able to do that they could do if their community’s drinking water was safe.
2. Ask students how many long-term boil water advisories they think there currently are in First Nations communities (you can turn this into a little higher/lower guessing game), go until someone guesses the right answer. Ask students how many short-term boil water advisories they think there currently are in First Nations communities (again, you can turn this into a little higher/lower game), go until someone guesses the right answer. Ask them what they think about these facts.
3. Ask students how many boil water advisories they think there currently are in non-First Nations communities (you can turn this into a little higher/lower game), go until someone guesses the right answer. Ask students how many do not consume orders they think there currently are in non-First Nations communities (again, you can turn this into a little higher/lower game), go until someone guesses the right answer. Ask them what they think about these facts.
4. Present the “Five Community Water Tales” PowerPoint presentation to the students.
5. Ask students what they learned from the PowerPoint presentation.
6. Have students complete the “Five Community Water Tales” worksheets. The PowerPoint slides can be printed as handouts in order to help the students to complete the worksheets.
7. Divide students into five groups, assign each group one of the five communities (Yellow Quill First Nation, Saddle Lake Cree Nation, Grassy Narrows, Neskantaga, Shoal Lake 40). Tell students that they are going to make a podcast about their community’s situation that will be played for everyone in the class. One person in the group will be the host of the podcast and will interview teenagers from the community. The other roles will depend on the number of students in each group. If there are 3 students in each group then the other two students in the group will be teenagers from the community who are being interviewed by the podcast’s host (the students will work together to record and edit the podcast). If there are 4 or more students in each group then one student will be the “producer” and will work the recording technology, edit the recording, etc. and the other students will be teenagers from the community who are being interviewed by the podcast’s host. If you have a very large class, you could split the students up into ten groups and have two groups assigned to each community.
8. Have each group research the most up-to-date information they can find for their community’s situation.
9. Use the podcast planning pages to have each group write questions that the host will ask about the community’s situation. Also, have each group write responses that the teenagers will give to the questions. Have each group decide on a name for the podcast, the host’s name, the teenagers’ names, how the host will begin the podcast, how the host will introduce the topic and the teenagers, how the host will thank the teenagers, and how the host will conclude the podcast.
10. Have each group practice their podcasts (separate rooms would be helpful for this, if space is available). When they are ready, they are to record their podcasts, listen to their podcasts, and edit their podcasts.
11. Have the “producer” from each group present their group’s podcast. If there were no “producers” then have the groups present their podcasts.
12. Students complete the Self and Peer Evaluation Form.
Evaluation: Can be based on their participation during the discussions, their completed “Five Community Water Tales” worksheets, their participation in the group work, their podcast (see the Group Podcast Rubric), and their self and peer evaluations.
Biological Water Treatment System Ends a Boil Water Advisory at Saddle Lake Cree Nation. (August 2018). Retrieved from https://www.sapphire-water.ca/biological-water-treatment-system-ends-a-boil-water-advisory-at-saddle-lake-cree-nation/
Boil Water on Neskantaga First Nation. CBC News. (October 2017). Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/bad-water-on-neskantaga-first-nation-1.3271489
Canada’s longest-standing First Nations boil water advisory will end in 2018, Liberals say. CBC News. (July 2017). Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/neskantaga-water-plan-1.4225889
Canada’s Waterless Communities: Neskantaga. VICE. (October 2015). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gsg6eUhFDDo
Canada: Water Crisis Puts First Nations Families at Risk. Human Rights Watch. (June 2016). Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/06/07/canada-water-crisis-puts-first-nations-families-risk
Grassy Narrows Drinking Water – Background Assessment: Information for the Ontario Regional Director-General. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.atlas101.ca/pm/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Grassy_Narrows_BN1_SF.pdf
Grassy Narrows Drinking Water – Implementation Strategy: Advice for the Ontario Regional Director General. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.atlas101.ca/pm/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Grassy_Narrows_BN2_SF.pdf
Grassy Narrows mercury victims up to 6 times more likely to have debilitating health problems, report says. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/grassy-narrows-health-report-release-1.4675091
How Yellow Quill First Nation ended a nine-year boil water advisory. (2015). Retrieved from https://esemag.com/water/yellow-quill-first-nation/
Issues in Shoal Lake 40 First Nation Extend Far Beyond Water. (2017). Retrieved from
Neskantaga First Nation: 5 people whose daily life revolves around getting clean water. CBC News. (October 2015). Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/neskantaga-first-nation-5-people-clean-water-1.3271165
Nibinamik First Nation Drinking Water – Implementation Strategy. Ramnauth, S. (February 2018). Retrieved from http://www.atlas101.ca/pm/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Nibinamik_BN2_SR.pdf
Nibinamik Public Water System – Background Assessment. Ramnauth, S. (January 2018). Retrieved from http://www.atlas101.ca/pm/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Nibinamik_BN1_SR.pdf
Saddle Lake Cree Nation SIBROM. (February 2018). Retrieved from https://www.sapphire-water.ca/projects-archive/saddle-lake/
Setbacks hit water treatment projects for Ontario First Nations. CBC News. (November 2018). Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/first-nations-water-treatment-setbacks-1.4909763
Shoal Lake 40 Drinking Water – Background Assessment: Information for the Ontario Regional Director General. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.atlas101.ca/pm/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Shoal_Lake_BN1_AW.pdf
Shoal Lake 40 Drinking Water – Implementation Strategy. Wreford, A. (February 2018). Retrieved from http://www.atlas101.ca/pm/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Shoal_Lake_BN2_AW.pdf
Shoal Lake 40 First Nation by the numbers. (2015). Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/1879193/shoal-lake-40-first-nation-by-the-numbers/
The Story of Grassy Narrows. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9E06pWtCHIg
Video uses animation, storytelling to chronicle Yellow Quill First Nation’s water struggles. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/yellow-quill-first-nation-water-video-sask-uofs-1.4089416
Yellow Quill First Nation. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqGSm8xFR5A