Pikangikum is a First Nations community in northwestern Ontario. It came to national attention after a wave of youth suicides in 2011. The tragedy prompted a group of Toronto-based professionals to work with the Pikangikum elders and school system. This group (called the Pikangikum Working Group) identified 12 priorities for the community. The first priority was to get a new school, which opened in the fall of 2016. The second is clean water.
Of the 450 homes in the community, 415 (90%+) did not have water or waste-water services. Surface water sources (lakes and rivers) are vulnerable to contamination, as are in-home water storage systems. Inadequate and decrepit wooden outhouses are used by most residents. Most of the present homes do not have the space or the structural integrity to support bathroom facilities.
To provide a source of potable drinking water to Pikangikum homes, equipping the homes with a cistern to hold the water and a wastewater holding tank, as well as the necessary fixtures and fittings.
Since 2013, more than $600,000 has been donated and more than 24 homes equipped with clean water and waste water removal facilities and the skills/labour training and jobs that go with the system. The Band Council is now working to implement Phase 4 to bring clean, safe water to more houses. The funds are already raised and allocated for this work, so no further fundraising for this project is required.
Families of Pikangikum, mostly elderly and with extreme health constraints, express relief and happiness in having access to clean water, toilets and bathing facilities at home.
Pikangikum in the news:
- Bringing clean water to Pikangikum First Nation
- Water advocacy project walks the talk (includes links to advocacy resources)
- Pikangikum water project benefits youth trainees too
- Habitat for Humanity joins Pikangikum project
- Experiencing Pikangikum
- Pikangikum youth show strength, support in face of tragedy
- New school opens in Pikangikum First Nation
- Understanding the issues helps lead to the solution