March 22, 2023
By Jose Zarate
“Indigenous peoples believe that water acts as the lifeblood of mother earth. They believe that water is healing and can purify their souls. They believe that water is biotic and has a soul that should be shown respect and treated with dignity.”
– Jessica Stephens-Whale; Report prepared for The Union of BC Indian Chiefs
“A single drinking water advisory can mean as many at 5,000 people lack access to safe, clean drinking water. Seventy-three percent of First Nations’ water systems are at high or medium risk of contamination. Lack of access to clean, safe drinking water in First Nations must be fixed for good. Twenty-eight First Nations communities still have long-term Drinking Water Advisories.”
– The Council of Canadians
Today is World Water Day.
Since 2013, PWRDF, in collaboration with Pimatisiwin Nipi-Living Waters Group ((PN/LW Group), a network of faith communities dedicated to partnership, advocacy, education and strategic giving around clean water in Indigenous Communities, has joined efforts to fundraise for Indigenous communities’ water projects. This collaboration made possible the partnership with Pikangikum First Nation in Northwestern Ontario to install safe drinking water and indoor plumbing in the homes that need it the most. Since 2013, 36 homes have been retrofitted and another 10 with funding from the Government of Canada.
In November 2021, the PN/LW Group and PWRDF supported another project implemented by Water First. WF addresses water challenges in Indigenous communities in Canada through education and training, working together with Indigenous communities to build capacity locally, and collaborating to address both drinking water and environmental water concerns. At the end of this project training, the young Indigenous trainees would become certified water treatment plant operators to help ensure safe, clean, drinking, water in First Nations communities for the long term.
This collaboration, the PN/LW Group and PWRDF, has now included a new community project, the Mishamikoweesh Water Partnership that aims to raise funds for a water truck in Kingfisher Lake. Because the majority of homes in this community receive water by water truck delivery, having a reliable truck is essential for households being able to access clean, running water in their homes.
PWRDF and PN/LW Group work is based on the principle that any projects submitted for funding considerations must be identified and led by Indigenous communities themselves. We must work together to ensure that access to safe and drinking water is a human right for all.