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The Struggle for Clean Water on Canadian First Nations Reserves

By Daniela A., North Oakville Youth Development Council, Communications Crew

September 14, 2020

Safe drinking water is a basic right that every human being should have access to. Without it, many people would be struggling and would not have the proper living conditions to survive. Humans depend so much on the government to provide these services. Canada is a country with many freshwater sources such as rivers and lakes. According to the Government of Canada website – Canada is home to 7% of the world's renewable freshwater supply. It might seem odd that any Canadian could be living without clean drinking water, but many are.

Source: UN Study

Unfortunately many First Nations communities across Canada are denied the right of clean drinking water. At any given time, some 100 First Nations are under water advisories, according to non-profit organization The Council of Canadians. Boil water advisories requires people to either boil water before drinking or avoid drinking tap water altogether. According to a study by the UN in 2009 - compared to other Canadians, First Nations' homes are 90 times more likely to be without any running water. This is the hidden reality that many people have to leave through. Although, building and maintaining water treatment plants in remote areas is a very expensive and challenging process. Remote communities are not the only ones struggling through this crisis.

One key problem is jurisdiction: while drinking water across Canada is regulated by the provinces, First Nations communities are under federal jurisdiction. What can individuals do? To solve the water crisis on First Nations reserves, we can as a community of active youth, inform others and sign petitions to create safe drinking water for the people on reserves. Clean drinking water is critical for the progression of our Nation. It is the beginning of more opportunities for First Nations and a path to a better relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.


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