We have a housing shortage that sees on average one home for every seven people, or … It’s an almost-daily chore lugging around four, five or more 10-gallon jugs. I can’t even imagine what would happen if a city like Vancouver — or any urban centre — had a contamination issue with their water. There are still more than 50 boil-water advisories in Indigenous communities across Canada, and that number doesn’t even count the communities like Attawapiskat whose water can’t be made safe by boiling. Attawapiskat Chief Wants 'Water, Sewer.. Things Ontario Calls Normal' Chief Bruce Shisheesh hopes a meeting with the prime minister will bring firm commitments. Federal technicians are in Attawapiskat to help address the water crisis that has enveloped the First Nation, Indigenous Services Canada said Tuesday. "Attawapiskat should be drinking the same quality of water the people in Ontario and Canada take for granted," he said. I know this firsthand because I have been trying for the past year to secure a mortgage in order to build our own home. My youngest boy, Junior, says he doesn’t want to live here anymore, either. Obtaining drinking water now means trekking to one of two facilities that the 2,500 people living in Attawapiskat all share. Leadership of the fly-in community located near the midway point of the west bank of James Bay declared a […] It’s not unrealistic to expect a mobile water treatment centre to be built, like the types mining companies use in remote areas to keep clean water flowing from their taps. He said there are a lot of concerns about the health impacts of the chemical byproducts in the water. Have a personal story you’d like to share on HuffPost Canada? The cost of the expansion is estimated at about $300 million to $400 million over 20 years. Contaminated water is just one problem on top of the other challenges Attawapiskat is already facing. The remains of a Canadian flag can be seen flying over a building in Attawapiskat, Ont. My family is currently homeless — my wife and kids live in a shack that I built as we prepare to construct a new house. Attawapiskat held a band meeting on the issue this past Friday and informed residents of the water situation. Around 350 kilometres downstream, at the mouth of the Attawapiskat River, stands another First Nation that has endured repeated states of emergency spurred by water and other infrastructure failures. By Ben Spurr Staff Reporter. She honestly feels like leaving the North, and has said that more than a few times already. Gull said the issue goes back to the 1970s when Ottawa decided use the lake water, which was originally intended to only feed the school, homes for teachers and the nursing station, to supply the whole community. People just don’t have a clue there are tens of thousands of Canadians who have no access to clean water — many of us who have never had access. While still safe, the drinking water is starting to register rising levels of THMs and HAAs. By Ben Spurr Staff Reporter. In the last 10 years, water “dispensaries” (reverse-osmosis water treatment plants) were installed in the community. Audience Relations, CBC P.O. We continued to draw water from the river for drinking and cleaning. My community of Attawapiskat First Nation has declared a state of emergency. The Attawapiskat band council in northern Ontario has declared a state of emergency after tests showed tap water had potentially harmful levels of … He said most homes in Attawapiskat don't have exhaust fans to get rid of the harmful chemical vapours emitted by the tap water. Indigenous Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan and his team visited our community two weeks ago. "I am very concerned about my family right now. Father, grandfather, husband, traditional knowledge keeper of Cree culture. Exposure to harmful chemicals can be limited by subsidizing water filters, which can run in a range from $2,000 to $12,000 per home in Attawapiskat. His office reportedly said $1.5 million has been approved for repairs to our existing treatment plant, and they’re planning on flying in drinking water because people are starting to lose faith in the increasingly dilapidated dispensaries. Follow him on Twitter @JorgeBarrera or email him jorge.barrera@cbc.ca. At an emergency meeting held to inform us of the news, band council shared a report they had received two weeks earlier — I don’t know why they sat on it a full two weeks before they notified the community. Attawapiskat has long struggled with THM and HAA levels due to the high level of naturally occurring organic material in the lake where the community draws its water. We are now building our own house, without the help of a mortgage. A state of emergency has been declared in the northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat after tests showed its drinking water had potentially … We have a housing shortage that sees on average one home for every seven people, or as many as 13 people sharing a dwelling. Water quality advisories are nothing new in Indigenous communities and Attawapiskat First Nation is the latest place to declare a state of emergency over water. By Jennifer Wabano OkimawInninu PEAWANUCK – OPINION – When De Beers began its operations on Omushkegowuk ancestral lands adjacent to Attawapiskat First Nation, they had a state-of-the-art water plant for its sites (kitchen, washrooms, etc. The crisis highlights the long, rocky road still ahead for reconciliation. "We didn't have indoor plumbing at that time.". It was harsh because of the chemicals used to treat it — so harsh you could smell the water coming from the tap. Our previous house was so mouldy and unhealthy to live in that we chose to demolish it with an excavator and start over. The house I was living in finally got running water in 1998 — only 21 years ago. On July 9, Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency: dangerously high levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs) were detected in the water, and residents were advised against bathing for too long or using the water to wash food. New attention was drawn to the water crisis over the weekend when Chelsea Jane Edwards, an Attawapiskat resident and Indigenous rights activist, issued a … Keep These Pandemic Safety Rules In Mind, Here’s The Last Day You Can Pay Using These Old Canadian Banknotes, Winners And Losers: What A Biden Presidency Means For Canada’s Economy, How To Open A Stubborn Produce Bag, The Pandemic-Safe Way. Campaign to raise $1M to fund pilot water project aimed at solving water crisis in Attawapiskat and serve as a sustainable model for First Nations … The situation of indigenous communities in Canada has been dire, to say the least. Part of it is the federal and provincial government’s chronic underfunding of capital projects in Indigenous communities. That is the story of this water crisis — it did not spring up overnight. The drinking water crisis on reserves can be resolved, and yet it has persisted for decades. The community has a separate system specifically for its drinking water supply that is filtered through a reverse-osmosis system which is distributed through two watering stations where community members can fill up jugs. We want answers.". In c. 2009 GENIVAR was asked by the community and Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada (AANDC, then INAC) "to identify a suitable water … I’d like to see a plan in place for Attawapiskat, and then for every other First Nation in Canada that is currently without drinking water. 8 années ago. Situated on the banks of Attawapiskat Lake in Northern Ontario, Neskantaga First … In 1976, AANDC recommended that the community water supply should come from an inland lake (slough) just northeast of the community. Back then, only teachers and hospital staff had the privilege of having access to running water. It has high levels of a chemical byproduct produced by the chlorination process in the community's ailing water plant. Contractor’s ‘Hope Stoves’ Help Homeless People Cook, Stay Warm, Fancy A Ski Trip? When Attawapiskat First Nation declared a state of emergency in October 2011, Charlie Angus (MP Timmins-James Bay) visited the community to find out why. It’s no small feat. Rangers are also assisting in Neskantaga First Nation in Northern Ontario. on November 29, 2011. "I think there will be more protests if we don't get answers or solutions to deal with this matter efficiently.". Attawapiskat has lurched from crisis to crisis for years. Over time, the damage to the home will make it cost prohibitive to repair; the home may even become uninhabitable. The tap water in the Ontario First Nation of Attawapiskat isn't safe. Attawapiskat First Nation gained national attention when it declared a state of emergency over lack of housing. The Attawapiskat First Nation Band Council has declared a state of emergency last week over concerns about water quality. "When I saw that tweet … I felt really angry," said Sutherland. THMs and HAAs cannot be cleared through boiling water. A new water source is also part of a broader plan for a desperately needed expansion of the community, which is bursting at the seams and pushing its existing water and wastewater systems to a near breaking point. In recent years, though, I have had the opportunity to travel to other cities with my band, Midnight Shine, and I now see how accessible water is everywhere else. For my entire life — right up to this very day — we have never had clean water flowing from the taps in our homes in Attawapiskat. "We want to know how we are going to deal with this. Privacy Policy. They cautioned us to open a window for ventilation when running the tap, because the harsh chemicals can become airborne. This crisis is testing everyone’s resolve. 17, 2016. "It's just one thing after another.". In April 2016, it declared a state of emergency after a succession of attempted suicides that followed the self-inflicted death of 13-year-old Sheridan Hookimaw. Brent Patterson. 17, 2016. On Tuesday morning, Nigel Nakogee, 17, protested outside the band office with a sign made of plywood carrying a message on both sides. In some cases, they also need to locate new sources of clean water for the long-term. In some cases, we’d also collect water from ditches for the laundry. Of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba, 53 are plagued by mould in addition to housing shortages. Jorge Barrera is a Caracas-born, award-winning journalist who has worked across the country and internationally. Gull said he asked officials with Indigenous Services Canada during a teleconference call on Monday to provide free bottled water to the community of 2,000, because many can't afford to purchase supplies from the local Northern Store. update Article was updated Apr. Even in the face of all of this, it would still be very difficult for my wife and I to leave. This First Nation community has never had access to safe drinking water, and now residents are told to refrain from taking long showers or washing food, due to the dangerous levels of toxins in the water. I grew up thinking this was normal, and never really thought much about it. “It was like stepping into a fourth world,” Angus wrote in an article for the Huffington Post Canada. Prolonged exposure to THMs and HAAs can cause skin irritation and could increase the risk of cancer, according to a consultant report prepared for the community. It would be a start. The community has been evacuated for several weeks while its tainted water system is being repaired. Attawapiskat residents have been warned to limit their time in the shower and not use hot water while washing because it opens the skin's pores, said Sutherland. O'Regan's spokesperson Kevin Deagle said the department would also be setting up a technical team to deal with the community's concerns. Daigle said the department has spent about $1.4 million on the community's water system since 2018. This situation has taken a real toll on my wife, Judy, who is one of the strongest people I know. Adrian Sutherland is a singer, songwriter, recording artist, and the frontman and founder of roots-rock band Midnight Shine. Attawapiskat First Nation. He lives in Attawapiskat, on the remote coast of the James Bay. It’s what I had become accustomed to. This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be accurate. It’s where my grandkids are. Attawapiskat locals warned that their water contains “chemicals” With the indigenous community still living in near third-world conditions, the Canadian government must deliver them their basic needs and human rights. It’s my home. They can cause cancer, and boiling water does nothing to get rid of them. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to the Canadian Teachers' Federation at its annual general meeting in Ottawa on Thursday, a row of teachers silently held up letters spelling "Attawapiskat." Mon., April 18, 2016 timer 7 min. All I want is to be able to give my family a comfortable and safe home, provide for them, and make sure they always have what they need. Attawapiskat has been plagued with water "supply, treatment, and distribution challenges" since at least 1992, according to Peters. Adrian Sutherland sings about resilience and the difficult living conditions facing Attawapiskat in Midnight Shine’s “Leather Skin.”. In winter we melted snow, and kept a hole open in the ice on the river so we could access water year-round. Instead of blaming each other and avoiding action. The Attawapiskat band council in northern Ontario has declared a state of emergency after tests showed tap water had potentially harmful levels of byproducts of the disinfection process created when chlorine interacts with high levels of organic materials in the community's water source. They seem happy and can spend their time doing other things for their family instead of having to fetch water every day. "Everybody is worried, they are very concerned and wondering what is going to happen," he said. I don't know what to do," he said. It is getting harder to trust the drinking water. The next Canadian government needs to compensate Neskantaga First Nation for the costs associated with evacuating the community after a … I’d like to see all the political parties in Canada, regardless of who is in power, come together to address the water issue, once and for all. read. In a perfect world, solving the housing crisis on Attawapiskat would require a large lottery win. As a father, it makes me feel like I haven’t done enough for my family. Gull said he is frustrated with Ottawa's fragmented approach to dealing with the community's long-standing water issues. Three weeks after Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency over its water quality and 14 days into a hunger strike to demand accountability, there are no signs of concrete actions from the federal government to address the water crisis in this First Nations community. This is their home, too. Attawapiskat, located about 490 kilometres north of Timmins, Ont., is a fly-in community connected by an ice road to Moosonee, Ont., in the winter. Three weeks after Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency over its water quality and fourteen days into a hunger strike to demand accountability, there are no signs of concrete actions from the federal government to address the water crisis in this First Nations community. Sutherland tweeted a photo of himself wearing a respirator mask to make his point. 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