NAN Statement on First Nations Clean Water Act

THUNDER BAY, ON: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler has issued the following statement following the introduction of the First Nations Clean Water Act today:

“As the Government of Canada introduces this piece of legislation today, we must remember that there are 13 long-term drinking water advisories in 12 NAN communities, representing over 40% of all long-term drinking water advisories nationally. Our leaders have demanded solutions for years, and this goes to the heart of many of our communities’ struggles to this day. While most Canadians can just turn on the tap and get clean water, there are many NAN First Nations that continue to suffer the impacts of decades of bad water.

While Nishnawbe Aski Nation welcomes progress through the developments of standards and regulations for First Nations water and wastewater, the introduction of the First Nations Clean Water Act is just the first step in the long process of developing standards and regulations for safe, clean drinking water, wastewater, and source water that respects the sovereignty of NAN communities.

We acknowledge that some First Nations have had opportunities for input into the drafting of this legislation, but we do not agree that this legislation has been co-drafted. We do, however, support legislation that enables our communities to develop their own standards and regulations in a manner that encourages them to exercise their sovereignty.

We will continue to work to ensure that our federal Treaty partner makes every effort to provide adequate and sustainable funding comparable to off-reserve water systems so that our members can finally begin to trust in their water systems.”

Bill C-61: “An Act respecting water, source water, drinking water, wastewater and related infrastructure on First Nation lands”, was tabled by Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hadju in the House of Commons this afternoon.

Quick Facts regarding Bill C-61:

  1. Neskantaga First Nation has been on a boil water advisory for more that 10,000 days, the longest in Canada.
  2. Section 9 of the Drinking Water Settlement Agreement (2021) required that Replacement Legislation must be introduced by December 31, 2022. Bill C-61 is being introduced almost a full year late.
  3. This legislation will require First Nations to choose a water quality standard. Communities may choose between Provincial Water Quality Standard, the Canadian Water Quality Guideline, or a standard of their own development. If they do not, the government may impose regulations and guidelines.

For more information please contact:
Michael Heintzman,
Director of Communications
Cell: (807) 621-2790

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