The Tale of Neskantaga
“For more than 20 years we haven’t been able to drink water from our taps or bathe without getting rashes. Water is a basic human right, and it should not have taken this long to provide the people of Neskantaga with access to safe drinking water.” – Neskantaga Chief Wayne Moonias
Neskantaga First Nation in Northern Ontario has the longest-standing drinking water advisory of any First Nation in Canada. Two decades ago, their water-treatment plant (which was then only a couple of years old) broke down – never to run again, and this means that the water could be contaminated with any number of bugs that pose threats to human health. This affects the daily lives of the over 340 residents of this First Nation.
Lesson 6: The Tale of Neskantaga and Write a Background Assessment Document and an Implementation Strategy Document
Grade: 10-12 (Science, Health, Social Studies)
Topic: The plight of Neskantaga and how they became the community with Canada’s longest-standing First Nations boil water advisory. Also, an introduction to writing a Background Assessment document and an Implementation Strategy document.
Time: Three (one for the lesson and approximately two work periods)
Space requirement: Classroom
Materials: Smartboard or computer and projector, copies of the worksheet, computers for the students to use to conduct research.
Objectives: Students will learn about what caused the problems in Neskantaga and how they have been without safe tap water since 1995.
Keywords: First Nation, Neskantaga
1. Present the “The Tale of Neskantaga” PowerPoint presentation to the students. This will include the viewing of a 17-minute video. (Warning for teachers: Curse words are said at 2:27 and at 2:34. Also, if you do not wish to mention suicide at all, then skip over slide 6 or delete that slide before delivering the PowerPoint presentation and delete questions 4 and 9 on the worksheet.)
2. Ask students what they think about the situation, have a class discussion. Some possible questions to discuss are:
a. What causes Neskantaga First Nation to be under a boil water advisory?
b. For how many years has Neskantaga First Nation been under a boil water advisory?
c. Do you think the water causes the skin issues? Why or why not?
d. How would you feel if you lived in Neskantaga First Nation?
3. Distribute the “The Tale of Neskantaga” worksheets to the students. If you want to make completing the worksheets easier for the students, you can put the PowerPoint presentation on the screen in a rotating manner by doing the following:
1. Click on Transitions
2. Change the Advance Slide option to After and enter a number of seconds (perhaps 15 seconds).
3. Click Apply To All
4. Click on Slide Show
5. Click on Set Up Slide Show
6. Under Show options select Loop continuously until ‘Esc’
7. Click OK
8. Click From Beginning
4. Tell students that their final assignment for this unit is to write a Background Assessment document and an Implementation Strategy document for Neskantaga First Nation. They will not need to write General Facts or Annex Information as part of their Background Assessment. Therefore, their Background Assessment document should be two pages (typed, single-spaced) in length and their Implementation Strategy should also be two pages (typed, single-spaced) in length. Go over the “Background Assessment and Implementation Strategy Documents” PowerPoint with the students.
5. Give students a work period to focus on the format of Background Assessment and Implementation Strategy documents and to determine what information they need to research, then research that information if there is time remaining or, if not, research that information as homework.
6. Give students a work period to focus on writing the Background Assessment and Implementation Strategy documents while you are there to help them if they run into issues. Completing their Background Assessment and Implementation Strategy documents is their homework.
A glimpse of Neskantaga First Nation: A community in crisis. CBC News. (April 2014). Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/a-glimpse-of-neskantaga-first-nation-a-community-in-crisis-1.2627644
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. Forstner, S. (January 2018). Retrieved from http://www.atlas101.ca/pm/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Grassy_Narrows_BN1_SF.pdf
Grassy Narrows Drinking Water – Implementation Strategy. Forstner, S. (February 2018). Retrieved from http://www.atlas101.ca/pm/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Grassy_Narrows_BN2_SF.pdf
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
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 – Implementation Strategy. Wreford, A. (February 2018). Retrieved from http://www.atlas101.ca/pm/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Shoal_Lake_BN2_AW.pdf