THUNDER BAY – EDITORIAL – The road to hell it is said is paved with good intentions. Grassy Narrows First Nation along with many many other First Nation communities across Ontario are experiencing their own special branches of hell.
Water – one of the very basic needs for survival on earth in far too many communities in Ontario is not found in lakes and stream but rather in expensive bottles that are flown in or driven in to the North. This cost takes away money from other vital community needs.
Our “True North strong and free” is not clean enough to allow the people living across the North to have potable drinking water in their communities. It isn’t a message that the Government of Canada shares on any tourism brochures. Likely the reality is overall, very few tourists fly into northern Ontario or Northern Canadian First Nation communities.
In some communities, boil water advisories have been in place for up to twenty years.
Think of that simple fact for a moment. For two decades, people have been unable to go to their kitchen sink, turn on a facet and enjoy a drink of water.
When the City of Winnipeg had concerns over safe drinking water it moved quickly to a resolution. In under a week the issue was solved.
In Northern First Nation communities, to bath in the water is to put your skin at risk from rashes. Same goes for washing clothing in the water.
It is a situation that many have promised to fix. It is still waiting for those solutions.
In Ogoki Post, or Marten Falls First Nation, the issue has been going on for a long time. Former Conservative Minister of Aboriginal Affairs reported that the issue was a filter for the water treatment plant and promised to solve the problem. In 2014, the cost of shipping water into the community was at $2.3 million.
Over two years later Marten Falls remains under a boil water advisory and with water having to still be flown in to the community.
Federally, the Liberals under Justin Trudeau have promised to do better than the previous Conservative government. Those promises have been repeated several times already, and it appears to date all that the people have to drink as the smiles and promises from the Liberals.
The Liberals have been making more trips into the North than the Conservatives did, and Minister Bennett has been on what could be said are endless fact finding missions.
The fact is the Liberals have been in power for almost a year. It is time to start putting the facts into action.
Facta non Verba – Deeds not Words
The honeymoon should be over and the time for the real work started. That doesn’t appear as yet to be happening, and that is leaving growing numbers of people behind.
Safe drinking water seems only to be a concern for far too many for large urban centres in Canada. Leaving the north behind leaves Canada behind.
WE can do a lot better, and it is time that Justin Trudeau, Minister Carolyn Bennett along with the First Nations leaders moved to action.