“We’re seeing a debate nationally about whether a person should wear a piece
of clothing, yet our First Nations communities are dying because of the poor
water conditions in their communities,” Chief Isadore Day said at a press
conference Monday in Toronto.
“So to be clear, you are committing then within five years there will be
clean water on all, for all First Nations?” VICE News Canada managing editor
Natalie Alcoba asked Trudeau at the town hall.”In all those 93 communities,
yes,” Trudeau replied.
If he’s elected prime minister on Oct. 19, Canada’s Liberal leader would end the rampant, widespread issue of boil water advisories on First Nation reserves.
Justin Trudeau made the promise Monday night during a town hall hosted by VICE Canada following announcements earlier that day by two First Nations that have each endured boil water advisories for nearly 20 years.
“We have 93 different communities under 133 different boil water advisories across the country,” Trudeau said when asked about the water issue.
“Chief Isadore Day has called for within five years there should be zero, and I’ve told the Chief and I’ve told First Nations many times, we agree with that, and a Canadian government led by me will address this as a top priority because it’s not right in a country like Canada that this has gone on for far too long,” he said.
On Monday, two Ontario First Nations slammed the government for inaction on the problem.
Shoal Lake 40, an island reserve, has been on a boil water advisory for 17 years, with residents relying on a decrepit barge to shuttle bottled water from the mainland. Whenever the boat breaks down, the reserve declares a state of emergency. The First Nation has asked the federal government to fund an access road to make building a water treatment plant cheaper and easier, but the federal government has refused to commit to the road.
Shoal Lake 40 announced Monday they would take the issue to the United Nations in February, calling the federal government’s lack of action a “human rights violation.”
Neskantaga has been under a boil water order for 20 years and had its drinking water rationed after its water treatment plant broke down in 1995. The community relies on bottled water deliveries, and residents complain of rashes and sores on their skin from bathing in the untreated water.
Neskantaga held a press conference in Toronto on Monday to draw attention to their reserve’s two-decade ordeal, saying the debate raging in the Canadian election over the religious face covering known as a niqab is far less of a pressing issue than the problem of access to clean drinking water.
“We’re seeing a debate nationally about whether a person should wear a piece of clothing, yet our First Nations communities are dying because of the poor water conditions in their communities,” Chief Isadore Day said at a press conference Monday in Toronto.
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