In the Neskantaga First Nation, undrinkable water is a crisis of health and faith – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – September 16, 2019)

Why can mining companies build water treatment plants for their
workers in remote locations in a timely manner that have no problems?

And why could a dinky little country of 4.5 million, take less than five years, in the early 1880s, to build the longest railroad in the world, at that time, through some of the harshest geography on the planet and yet a modern, industrialized G-7 C$2 trillion economy not be able to provide clean drinking water to all affected FNs in ONE political
mandate of roughly four years?? – Stan Sudol

After a quarter-century of Canada’s longest boil-water advisory, the people of Neskantaga thought their water crisis could not possibly get worse. They were wrong.

The breakdown of two electric pumps has left the isolated First Nations community without any water in some of its homes this week, and only a trickle of unchlorinated water in others. Its school has shut down, and nearly 100 people were flown to Thunder Bay on emergency evacuation flights on Sunday, with more evacuations scheduled for Monday evening.

Some residents are already reporting headaches and skin infections from the water, according to Chief Chris Moonias. The federal Liberals have pledged to eliminate all of the 56 remaining boil-water advisories in First Nations communities across Canada by March, 2021. But the prolonged crisis at Neskantaga and other First Nations has raised doubts about whether or not that promise will be met.

In a media briefing on Monday, officials from the federal Indigenous Services department suggested the Neskantaga residents could take sponge baths with boiled water for hygiene. They said they expect a replacement pump to be installed by Wednesday to fix the problem. The evacuation flights were an unapproved “self-evacuation” by the community, they said.

Neskantaga, on the shores of Attawapiskat Lake about 450 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, has gone nearly 25 years without safe water in its taps – longer than any other community in Canada. It has become a lingering symbol of a crisis that still haunts more than 55 Indigenous communities across the country.

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