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Habitat for Humanity joins Pikangikum project

Residents get water from external tanks at the edge of their property.

March 1, 2017

By Janice Biehn

The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund is pleased to announce confirmation of a partnership with Habitat for Humanity Manitoba, to bring clean water to 10 more homes in Pikangikum, a remote fly-in community of about 3,000 people in Northwestern Ontario.

In 2012, PWRDF joined a group of professionals and Pikangikum community leaders, known as the Pikangikum First Nation Working Group. Their goal was to provide clean drinking water to 10 homes there, after elders had identified it as a top priority. According to the federal government, the First Nations community has been under a Boil Water Advisory since September 2006. It is one of 80 in Canada south of the 60th parallel to have a long-term Drinking Water Advisory.

In fall 2013, PWRDF contributed funds to help retrofit 10 homes with a cistern to hold potable water and a tank to hold waste water, as well as the necessary fixtures and fittings that would allow for full indoor plumbing and clean water. Phase 1 is now complete.

Since 2013, a total of $550,000 has been donated to PWRDF for Pikangikum from Anglican parishes and dioceses across the country as well as from others wishing to contribute, such as the Indigenous Neighbours Program of the Mennonite Central Committee in Timmins, Ont. Anglican churches have organized countless fundraisers; a five-year-old boy asked for donations instead of birthday presents; the PWRDF Youth Council made clean water in Pikangikum the focus of its National Youth Project.

Most instrumental to the progress has been the steadfast support of Pimatsiwin Nipi – a community initiative started by Trinity Church Aurora and Bishop Mark MacDonald — who approached PWRDF with the idea for a water project in 2011.

“We are encouraged by the support of so many Anglicans and others who have put such a high priority on support for clean water and sanitation in Pikangikum,” said Will Postma, Executive Director of PWRDF, who visited Pikangikum and met with the Chief, Council and other community members in December, 2016. “We are pleased to see Phase 2 begin and partner with Habitat for Humanity Manitoba and the Pikangikum First Nation Council, who are also providing important warehouse and transport support for the project and are ensuring a group of community members will be available for training, on the ground support and any post-project maintenance.

“In this second phase, we are installing larger (1,200-gallon) tanks and they will be housed in a small addition outside of the house on wooden pads [on gravel beds],” says Postma. “The advantage is that they won’t need to be filled as often. The current 650-gallon tanks need to be filled three times a week.”

“Each year HFH Manitoba is committed to provide its design, project planning, construction and logistics skills to work on a project on reserve, in our catchment area, to help improve the quality of life for those living there. Pikangikum is a perfect example of people living in difficult conditions who can benefit from the expertise resident in our Affiliate. We are delighted to be able to assist them,” said Sandy Hopkins, HFH Manitoba Chief Executive Officer.

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For media requests please contact Communications Coordinator Janice Biehn at (416) 924-9199;366.

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