NAN Supports Neskantaga’s Call for Action during Treaties Recognition Week

Thunder Bay, ON: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler supports members of Neskantaga First Nation who are at Queen’s Park today during Treaties Recognition Week calling for provincial action to immediately resolve the longstanding issues with the community’s water system.

“It is simply unacceptable that Neskantaga First Nation members were forced to evacuate 16 days ago, during a pandemic, because they do not have access to running water. Canada is known as one of the greatest countries in the world to live in, but the people of Neskantaga are being denied the basic human right of access to clean water,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “Treaty No. 9 and Treaty No. 5 represent the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the people of Nishnawbe Aski and the Crown. We fully support Chief Moonias, and we look to the governments of Ontario and Canada to honour the Treaties and provide the necessities of life to the people of Neskantaga.”

Neskantaga members Lawrence Sakanee and Alex Moonias have travelled to Toronto and are visiting as guests in the Ontario Legislature today.

Neskantaga declared a State of Emergency in October after a complete shutdown of their water system due to a contaminant. There is currently no running water in the community, including the temporary reverse osmosis system that the community has relied on for years as the only source of safe drinking water.

Just after the evacuation, Chief and Council identified the minimum acceptable conditions for a safe return of community members who were forced to leave the community due to the immediate health threats from the lack of water. Continued and urgent action is required from both levels of government and all involved in the project.

Neskantaga has not had safe drinking water since 1995 – the longest running boil water advisory in Canada. A water treatment plant was constructed in 2016, but there have been numerous delays, equipment failures and related infrastructure failures. A coordinated approach is required to ensure that community members can safely return home and have access to clean safe drinking water.

Neskantaga First Nation is a remote Oji-Cree community in Treaty No. 9 territory situated on the shores of Attawapiskat Lake in the District of Kenora, approximately 430 km northeast of Thunder Bay.

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Michael Heintzman,
Director of Communications
Cell: (807) 621-2790