OTTAWA – The issue of safe clean water was raised in Ottawa on Thursday. Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo welcomed all party support for addressing the needs of First Nation communities requiring access to clean, running water in their homes, and urged the Government of Canada to work with First Nations on implementation. “Access to safe, potable water and sanitation is a basic human right, and I commend all parties for their acknowledgement that urgent attention is required to ensure First Nation citizens have access to clean, running water in their homes,” said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo. “Report after report reveals the stark reality that the situation is only getting worse. Now is the time to act and First Nations are keen to work together with all levels of government in ways that respect our rights and responsibilities and the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, so we can better ensure the safety of our people.”
The motion, introduced by Liberal Leader Bob Rae in the House of Commons today, calls on the Government of Canada to address on an urgent basis the needs of First Nations communities whose members do not have access to clean, running water in their homes, referring to the lack of access as a disparity representing an “affront to our sense of justice and fairness as Canadians”.
In July 2011, the National Water Assessment revealed that 73 per cent of water facilities were found to be in high and medium overall risk to First Nations. This week, EcoJustice released “Waterproof 3 – Canada’s Drinking Water Report Card”, which found that water quality in First Nation communities remains far below that of other communities in Canada and that there are few signs of improvement. In the report, Ecojustice calls for concrete funding and a clear action plan to address the failures of federal action.
There are currently 126 First Nation communities with drinking water advisories.
“Safe drinking water requires more than writing new regulations. It requires infrastructure and facilities, skills, training and resources,” said National Chief Atleo. “We must work together to develop a plan, supported by resources, that will actually achieve safe and clean drinking water for our citizens and communities.”