It's Time to Clean Up Our Act, but first, Let's Clean First Nation's Water

by JaydenWlasichuk on November 10, 2017 - 8:51pm

By the standards of most people, access to water is a basic human right. Water is necessary for all aspects of human life; from birth to death, water supports us all. However, there are countless Indigenous people in Canada that face each day without adequate access to clean or accessible water for drinking, bathing or cooking. In the Huffington Post article ”Canada First Nations Water Issues Need to be Fixed: UN", the author, Jessica Chin, addresses the recurring issues on First Nations reserves in Canada. One of the most significant issues faced by people living on reserves is the lack of access to water.  

Chin outlines the importance of water to Indigenous peoples by referencing the values it has for the creation of human life within women; Metis woman, Maria Campbell states that "you can't have birth without water". While Canadians from coast to coast to coast have been enjoying the luxury of municipal treated water for decades, numerous First Nations reservations have been under "boil-water advisories" - meaning they must boil the water that comes out of their taps at a constant temperature for extended periods of time before it is safe to consume.  

The issues with water provision to First Nations communities shows issues with command and control on behalf of the government, as well as the average Canadian. Canadians, like many other citizens of developed nations in the world, often place blind faith in their government and public servants, believing that they will provide the best for every citizen. However, the Canadian government has been ignoring clean water issues on reserves for quite some time, as there are reserves in Ontario and the rest of the provinces that have been on boil-water advisories for decades.  

To better the systems in place that are currently managing resources for Indigenous peoples, the Canadian government should adopt more features of the adaptive management framework. The most important aspect of the cycle is to establish monitoring programs, and to adjust for enhancement of effectiveness. By revamping water management and cleaning systems, it will be easier to ensure that reservations have access to acceptable water. The inclusion of adjustment is to allow for changes to be made when, or if, things may not go according to plan. This also gives the government the chance to increase their adaptive capacity to changing conditions.  

Overall, by managing adaptively, the Canadian government can begin to alleviate the stress on communities that have been facing water advisories for extended periods of time. In addition to creating a better Canada for all citizens, it will also have a positive influence on Canada's standing with the United Nations regarding our treatment of Indigenous Canadians. All in all, the time is now for the Canadian government to act, to ensure that all Canadians have equal access to one of our most basic human rights.