As someone who grew up next to Niagara Falls and the Great Lakes, I never considered water availability an issue. Not for me, at least. In my blissfully ignorant, selfish youth, I thought the only places affected by the water crisis were historically dry places like Ethiopia, Sudan, and Eritrea. Until Flint, Michigan's water crisis less than 400km away. This led to my discovery that 73% of First Nations' water systems are at high or medium risk of contamination in Canada. Below is a picture of a bath in Neskantaga First Nations Reserve in 2021 (source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/30/canada-first-nations-justin-trudeau-drinking-water).
The Canadian government has promised to invest money to fix this issue but is investing the only solution?
We can't just give someone a stack of plastic water bottles, pat ourselves on the back and think yep, that solves it. We need a plan that incorporates:
Breaking down the old barriers that caused this in the first place
Sustainable, long-lasting changes
Regulations on water quality in reserves (which do not exist pretty much at all right now), consistent and adequate funding, supporting household wastewater treatments, including more efficient rainwater collection, and actually asking what these communities want and need instead of deciding for them are just a few places we can start. Let's incorporate more sustainable water use methods so water access will never be a problem for these communities or the environment ever again.
Water is a fundamental right. Not only is access to water an environmental issue, but it's a human rights issue.
Thanks for posting such a long and meaningful post. From the picture you provided, the water is not so pure and has many impurities that cause the watercolour looks yellow. We know there are still someplace in Canada's water system that is not developed very well and are at medium risk of contamination. We need to do more actions to improve water quality and save our water. We need to fight for our rights!
Hi Katie, thank you for sharing your knowledge! I had no idea that 73% of First Nations' water systems are at high or medium risk of contamination in Canada; the image really puts into perspective how dire the situation really is. I think that your plan looking into the past (old barriers) will be really helpful towards changing existing issues first, before jumping straight into future solutions is a lot more realistic, doable and efficient.
Thank you for sharing! I really like how you broke down the interventions that we need to take part in. Specifically I really like how you emphasizes on sustainable long lasting changes that incorporate more sustainable water methods.
Hi Katie! I really liked your plan and I agree we should consult these communities first before taking action!
Amazing post Katie - concise, informative, and thought-provoking! I really like how you connect your personal experience with a particular water crisis issue. How infuriating it is that this widespread First Nations' water systems issue is yet another example of environmental racism. I appreciate your implementation plan that tackles systems change rather than more bottled-water bandaid solutions.
You're totally right that this is a human rights issue and I really like the ideas you listed here!
I absolutely agree!! Having drinkable and usable water isn't something that should be contended as its a need for survival and a basic human right. Also, the way you brought in both procedural and recognitional justice into your proposed solutions really emphasizes the thought behind what you're proposing. I really appreciate and admire that level of consideration.
What kind of regulations did you have in mind for the Greater Vancouver Area?
I really like how youu're calling out former "solutions" that did very little. Great idea of regulating water quality, as well! I can't believe water looks like that anywhere.