Archive for the ‘Drinking Water Act’ Category

Ex-PMO official uses S-11 threat to sell water fitration units to FNs

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Thank you Council of Canadians for writing this article… there seems to be a ton of articles out there that are full of distracting information.

Friday, March 18th, 2011
Currently, 114 First Nations communities are under drinking water advisories. Some private water companies see this as a business opportunity and aggressively pursue new ‘markets’ in First Nations communities. The CBC reports that, “Shawn Atleo, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said he meets with hundreds of companies who say they have solutions to First Nations water-quality problems, but tells them to speak directly the communities.” And rather than providing the funding needed for First Nations water infrastructure needs, the Harper government has instead seen privatization as a quick fix for the water crisis in First Nations communities and has promoted public-private partnerships through its federal budgets.

Now Postmedia News reports that, “A former senior adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper was lobbying the Indian Affairs Department to land contracts potentially worth millions of dollars for an Ottawa-based water company (H20  Global Group)…. Bruce Carson, after serving as a top adviser to the prime minister, met with staff in Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan’s office (on January 11), where he briefed them on a water-filtration project… The project involved water filtration systems for dozens of First Nations communities who are currently under orders to boil their water…” According to APTN, “Carson and company officials (had) plans to sell up to 40,000 water filtration units to 50 identified First Nations with dire water problems.”

The Globe and Mail adds that, “First nations leaders were allegedly being warned by the promoters of the H2O Pro system that new legislation (S-11) before the Senate will require them to meet stringent drinking water standards but will provide no resources to do so. The communities were allegedly told that government connections could be used to find money for the equipment and training if they purchased the systems.”

“At the same time, Mr. Carson was trying to convince the company he still had powerful access to the government. In one e-mail, obtained by the APTN, he wrote two officials at H2O Pros claiming he had spoken with the Prime Minister on Aug. 5 about the pending appointment of Mr. Duncan to the Indian Affairs portfolio. He later admitted to the APTN that he had not spoken directly to Mr. Harper, but rather to someone in his office.”

Carson was reportedly also making claims that the Assembly of First Nations backed his project. CBC reports, “A statement released by the AFN says they don’t ‘endorse, promote or support any product, service or company with which Mr. Carson is or was involved.’ It goes on to say the AFN became aware last October Carson and his representatives ‘were making claims to that effect and we moved immediately to make him and his colleagues stop.’”

Postmedia notes, “In the early 1980s, Carson was disbarred and served time in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of defrauding law clients. Carson was (then) a key adviser to Harper, both in opposition and government. He was parachuted briefly in 2006 as chief of staff to then-environment minister Rona Ambrose, as environmentalists and other critics pilloried her for insufficient action to curb climate change. Ultimately, she was demoted and Carson returned to Harper’s side full time.”

“The director of programs and services with H2O…insisted Carson never worked as a lobbyist for the company and never promised any access to government. …Federal law prohibits former political staffers from lobbying government for five years after leaving office, and Carson was never registered as a lobbyist.”

“The prime minister’s office (has) sent a letter asking RCMP commissioner William Elliott to investigate whether Carson exploited his inside connections to influence a government decision. …The Prime Minister’s Office also sent letters, obtained by Postmedia News, to the ethics commissioner and lobbying commissioner, asking them to look into Carson’s activities. Spokesmen for both commissioners and the RCMP said they are reviewing the letters before launching investigations.”

EG4W + Ontario Canadian Federation of Students locals + World Water Day, Canada Water Week

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011


Boozhoo Ontario CFS Locals,

I was fortunate enough to speak to at the Spirit of the North conference to the Northern Ontario universities. We discussed plans for World Water Day (March 22/11) and Canada Water Week (March 14-22/11).  There was support for holding ‘Glass Action’ days on campuses.

I am attaching a poster, and will make some suggestions here if you choose to hold a ‘glass action’ day on your campus.  EG4W World Water Day 2011 POSTER PDF

It can be a one day event on World Water day, March 22/11 (register your event @

or the inaugural Canada Water Week event from March 14-22/11 (… or any day of your choosing!

Here are a list of suggestions, and links that you may find useful in planning your ‘glass action’:

-        stream “Glass Action’ film

-        stream “No Running Water” by the Winnipeg Free Press

-        show a feature length film, inviting the greater community to attend (i.e. Waterlife, Water on the Table)

-        encourage people to bring empty glasses for water… if you have it in your budgets, you could mail in glasses for your students, or ask your MP drop them off to the Prime Minister… you could also have empty glasses on hand for people… start a water glass drive now… insert the postcards into each glass, so people can just quickly fill it out, then drop it into a box for shipping. EG4W CFS letters to PM (4 per page) PDF

-        post the glasses you mail in on the EG4W website (glass counter:

-        invite the Chief or an Elder from a neighbouring community to speak at your event,  find out what their water situation is… perhaps you will be doing a water ceremony that day, ‘Greet Pray Semaa’, please send us this information so we can place a virtual semaa/tobacco leaf on our website (ceremony tracker:

-        promote the Mother Earth ‘Turtle Island’ Water Walk at your event. ( This year the Grandmothers and youth are walking and carrying water from all 3 oceans, and the Gulf of Mexico, and meeting in Bad River, Wisconsin where the waters will converge on JUNE 12th. I am helping coordinate this event. Water Walk 2011 Brochure PDF

-        PETITION: Manitoba Chiefs, “Water is a Human Right”

-        PETITION: Grassy Narrows background

-        Health Canada Drinking Water and Wastewater Info

-        Learn about Bill S-S11 NO to opening the door to privatization! Read this submission by the Council of Canadians to the Senate Committee Bill-S11 PDF

Miigwech for your support and your efforts.

Please forward questions, comments, poster designs to .

Miigwech, thank you,

Joanne Robertson

Founder, Empty Glass for Water campaign

Council of Canadians call a spade a spade!

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011


For Immediate Release
March 1, 2011

Council of Canadians raises concerns about Senate bill on First Nations water safety

Ottawa – The Council of Canadians has raised several concerns with the Safe Drinking Water For First Nations Act (Bill S-11) in a submission to the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.

With 117 communities under water advisories in December, the Council of Canadians strongly supports the creation of legislation that recognizes First Nation communities’ right to water and ensures safe drinking water for First Nation communities.

“Water is a human right, public trust and global commons,” says Council of Canadians national water campaigner Emma Lui, who prepared the submission. “We are extremely concerned that the Bill as it stands lacks funding commitments and could open the door to water privatization in First Nation communities. The Bill also currently gives the Canadian government the power to force a community to allow a private, for-profit entity to build, operate and/or manage its water services.”

The UN passed two resolutions last year recognizing the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, with the second resolution making the right legally binding. The Council’s submission highlights that several clauses in Bill S-11 are inconsistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (DRIP), which Canada endorsed last November. In developing Bill S-11, many First Nation communities were not consulted and the bill does not require consultation in developing regulations on safe drinking water for First Nation communities.

The UN DRIP requires free, prior and informed consent to any decisions affecting indigenous lands and resources. Any bill or regulations involving safe drinking water in First Nation communities should be developed alongside First Nation communities and must include their concerns.

“It’s deeply troubling that several clauses affirm that the regulations made under Bill S-11 take precedence over aboriginal and treaty rights and First Nation laws or by-laws,” says Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow.

Last December, the Council released a report entitled Public Water for Sale: How Canada will Privatize our Public Water Systems warning of the potential impacts of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) on Canada’s water systems. (see below) The report noted that, “The private sector will have the ability to enter First Nations as owners and operators of water and wastewater facilities due to a lack of infrastructure, resources and training within First Nations.” CETA and Bill S-11 combined could prevent First Nations from building, owning and operating their own water and wastewater plants.

The Council of Canadians is urging that any legislation on safe drinking water for First Nations include funding commitments, the explicit recognition that First Nation communities have a right to build, own and operate their own water systems, clear responsibilities for governments and private companies and a clause on free, prior and informed consent on any decisions affecting water systems.

The full submission is available Bill-S11. Please download and read the full submission.

For more information:

Dylan Penner, media officer, Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685,, Twitter: @CouncilofCDNs

December 16, 2010

Canada-EU trade talks put Canada’s water up for sale, says new report

Ottawa, ON — Canada’s already challenged public water systems are under threat from a broad free trade agreement being negotiated by Canada and the European Union (EU). A new report released today, Public Water for Sale: How Canada will Privatize Our Public Water Systems, warns that public water in Canada will be lost unless the provinces and territories take immediate steps to remove water from the scope of the proposed Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

The report from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Council of Canadians exposes how CETA would open up public municipal water systems across Canada to privatization. At the request of Europe’s large private for-profit water corporations, provincial and territorial governments are considering including drinking water and wastewater services in their services commitments under CETA. They have been asked by the Harper government to make the final decision before a sixth round of CETA talks in Brussels this January.

“CETA is a water privatization deal,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “Our public water is being negotiated away behind closed doors. We need to act now or we will wake up one morning and our public water systems will be gone.”

CUPE and the Council of Canadians are calling on the provinces and territories to assert their jurisdiction and protect water from the Harper government’s reckless disregard for Canada’s public water. The report notes the CETA agreement would compound existing pressure in Canadian municipalities and First Nations reserves to privatize water systems due to a lack of proper public funding and federal programs designed to encourage privatization.

“Canadians hold a great deal of trust in publicly owned, operated and delivered water and sanitation systems,” says CUPE National President Paul Moist. “Water and other essential services – such as health care, public transit, postal services and energy – are vital to our communities. This deal will allow the world’s largest multinational corporations to profit from Canada’s water.” Moist is also calling on CUPE’s municipal locals to take action against this deal which is being negotiated without full public debate.

EU negotiators are also asking that Canada’s municipalities and their water utilities be included in a chapter on public procurement. If this happens, it would be the first time Canada has allowed our drinking water to be fully covered under a trade treaty. The goal is clearly to encourage the privatization of Canada’s public municipal water systems.

“Canada’s drinking and sewage systems are important community assets. Public drinking water and sanitation services are a human right and the lifeblood of well-functioning communities,” says Barlow.

The report is available at and

For more information:

Greg Taylor, CUPE National Media Relations – (613) 237-1590 ext. 393
Matthew Ramsden, Communications Officer (Campaigns) – (613) 698-5113 (cell)

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A‐in‐chut Atleo

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples Regarding Bill S‐11, Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act

3 standout concerns voiced by National Chief Shawn, shared by other First Nation leaders across Canada. (I highlighted them in the pdf that you can download.

1 – lack of financial provisions.

2 – First Nations have said that they fell that they haven’t been properly consulted.

3 – Canada appears to give itself the authority to determine the extent to which the Crown can abrogate and derogate Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

First Nations to alert UN to water woes (Winnipeg Free Press)

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Minimum standards not being met: MKO

Winnipeg Free Press, February 16, 2011 by Mia Rabson

OTTAWA — First Nations leaders from northern Manitoba are taking their water crisis to the United Nations.

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief David Harper told a Senate committee hearing Tuesday the lack of running water in more than 1,000 homes in northern Manitoba is a violation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People.

MKO plans to ask the UN to investigate the violations of rights imposed by the lack of water.

“How many more people in northern Manitoba First Nations must get sick with the flu or other diseases just because they can’t wash their hands before the government of Canada will take action?” Harper asked the senators at the committee.

Last fall, the Winnipeg Free Press exposed the Third World conditions in the Island Lake region of Manitoba, where most families have less water every day than people in refugee camps.

The United Nations recommends 50 litres of clean water are needed per person every day to meet minimum standards. In disaster zones, the UN recommends at least 15 litres of clean water per person per day.

Many people in the Island Lake region get by on 10 litres per day, usually lugged by family members in pails from local water pipes. Additional water comes in untreated from lakes and rivers that have tested positive for contaminants including E. coli.

The issue has been front and centre as the aboriginal peoples committee of the Senate considers bill S-11. The legislation seeks to regulate water quality on reserves.

Chiefs nationwide have said the bill puts the regulation cart before the water truck.

Few communities have the infrastructure needed to meet any regulations on water standards and chiefs, including Harper, say the government needs to help build the systems before they can be regulated.

“Bill S-11 will not deliver clean running water into 1,000 homes in northern Manitoba,” said Harper.

Conservative Sen. Patrick Brazeau, who introduced the bill in the senate for the government, said the bill is intended as a starting place.

“Would you agree, at least, it’s a step forward?” he asked.

Harper said only if the bill also included a requirement for the government to ensure the systems were in place to meet regulations.

Several Liberal senators have indicated plans to vote against the legislation, though the Conservatives likely have enough votes on their side to pass it on to the House of Commons.

Liberal Sen. Roméo Dallaire said he finds it disturbing most Canadians don’t even have to think about clean running water at their summer homes, let alone their primary residences.

“Cottage country in Canada has much better drinking water than you,” Dallaire said.

Harper is pushing for the federal government and Manitoba to join forces to build the water-treatment plants, water holding tanks and indoor plumbing fixtures needed to ensure the Island Lake residents have enough clean water to drink, cook and bathe.

Senate begins hearing witnesses for Bill S-11, Feb 2/11

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

BILL S-11 = the Safe Water Act for First Nations

View the unrevised transcript: SENATE meeting, FEB 2 2011

“If you wish to cite an unrevised transcript, please obtain beforehand the consent of the person who spoke.” The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples


Indian and Northern Affairs Canada,  Ms. Christine Cram, Assistant Deputy Minister, Education and Social Development Programs and Partnerships, and

Mr. Karl Carisse, Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives Directorate, Community Infrastructure Branch, Education and Social Development Programs and Partnerships.

Health Canada, Ms. Sheilagh Jane Woods, Director General, Primary Health Care and Public Health, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch

Department of Justice,  Mr. Paul Salembier, General Counsel.

Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Bill, Second Reading—Debate Continued

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On the Order: Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Brazeau, seconded by the Honourable Senator Lang, for the second reading of Bill S-11, An Act respecting the safety of drinking water on first nation lands.

Hon. Charlie Watt: [Senator Watt spoke in Inuktitut.]

Honourable senators, I thank the government for making clean drinking water for First Nations a priority. We all agree that the right to clean drinking water is important to all Canadians, and we want legislation that addresses this issue.

My concern with Bill S-11 is the impact of clause 4(1)(r) on the rights of Aboriginal peoples in this country. In particular, regulations under this act would abrogate or derogate from our constitutionally protected rights under section 35 of the Charter.

It is my role as an Aboriginal senator to bring these elements to the attention of honourable senators as we study this bill.

The special trust relationship and the responsibility of the government to Aboriginal peoples must be our first consideration in determining whether the legislation can be justified. We must ensure that fair resources are available and that the Aboriginal nations in question are properly consulted at the earliest stage.

This issue of trust is a delicate matter. At the tip of the iceberg, Aboriginal leaders are wondering why this legislation is being introduced. It appears to be about water quality but the wording of it has many in the Aboriginal community questioning whether there is more to this legislation than meets the eye.

Aboriginal leaders have asked me about the justification for this bill. We are concerned by the wording of this particular bill because it takes a position that is very different from the recommendations made by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in their 2007 report titled: Taking Section 35 Rights Seriously: Non-derogation Clauses relating to Aboriginal and treaty rights.

In this report we are reminded of the scope of section 35 rights, as we are from the Sparrow decision at the Supreme Court of Canada. This report is an excellent overview of the responsibility of the Crown.

I am also concerned because this bill seems to contradict the recommendations in the 2007 report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples on the subject of safe drinking water in First Nations communities. In this report on the issue of resource allocation, Dr. Harry Swain, Chair of the Expert Panel of Safe Drinking Water for First Nations, said his personal conclusion is that if we want to see the completion of what has been a fairly considerable national effort to get good water on Indian reserves, then we should worry about the basic resources first and about a regulatory regime later.

On the point of consultation, the Supreme Court of Canada has elaborated on the legal requirement for this study to consult. As we consider Bill S-11, it seems that clause 4(1)(r) suggests that the Crown contemplated that the forthcoming regulations might have a negative or adverse affect on Aboriginal rights or titles protected under section 35.

Honourable senators, I am troubled by the precedent we are setting. The way I see it, the government is venturing into provincial jurisdiction and outside of parliamentary scrutiny with this bill. On the issue of section 35 rights, I again refer honourable senators back to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs report, which says:

This approach appears to establish a precedent for dealing with non-derogation of Aboriginal and treaty rights as a regulatory matter rather than addressing the issue explicitly in legislation, with obvious implications for Parliamentary scrutiny.

On this note, I would like to state for the record that I have met with Assembly of First Nations representatives and received written correspondence from those who are alarmed by the actions of this government actions which seem to be forcing them into a serious agreement with a yet-unknown third party without adequate consultation.

I remind those who are new to this chamber that Aboriginal peoples have struggled for generations to achieve legitimacy at the negotiating table. We take the issue of consultation and respect seriously.

Although I do not often speak of this, honourable senators, Aboriginal leaders carry a tremendous burden; their communities and their families have paid dearly for our involvement in political life. My involvement in the repatriation of the Constitution is one of the highlights of my career; the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement is the other. In both of these proceedings I was honoured to negotiate on behalf of my people, but I did so at great personal expense.

Honourable senators, although those issues may seem old news to some, the embers of those political battles still burn in the hearts of those who negotiated with the government. Some of us have lived through the bitter and violent days of negotiations. We made advancements for our people, at a cost.

Although we have achieved much, it appears that Aboriginal people still have less respect from the government and we still do not enjoy the same equality provided to other Canadians. The fact that this bill contemplates abrogating Aboriginal rights through regulation that will not be scrutinized by Parliament is an embarrassment to Canadians and it is offensive to Native leaders. Once again it seems that government is trying to out-muscle us in a publicly humiliating way.

Honourable senators, as I conclude my remarks, I would suggest that we have many potential problems with the bill in its current form. We are not working from a position of trust, we have not heard any solid justification for this bill in any of the government’s own reports, there is no provision for the resources in this bill and the consultations with the First Nations were weak. I repeat, they were weak.

Honourable senators, it is our duty to ensure that Aboriginal and treaty rights are protected. We must insist on the cooperative framework between the Government of Canada and First Nations because that is the Constitution we live with today. (On motion of Senator Mitchell, debate adjourned.)


Senate Debate on Bill S-11, The Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Bill

Sunday, July 18th, 2010


This is a must read; from front to back. It’s frightening. It throws open the doors to loss of rights, punishment and water privatization. First Nations are going to have a heck of a time meeting the standards in this bill, and if they don’t “any person” can come in and “seize and detain things, and apply for a search warrant” and/or “require a first nation to enter into an agreement for the management of its drinking water or waste water system in cooperation with a third party.” Just like that, the Crown can send whoever they darn well please, to come in and seize, detain and/or privatize.

This bill also says in paragraph 4 (1)(r) that the Crown can: “provide for the relationship between the regulations and aboriginal and treaty rights referred to in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, including the extent to which the regulations may abrogate or derogate from those aboriginal and treaty rights.”

Abrogate and derogate are pretty scary words. Abrogate means to do away with. Derogate means to deviate or detract from. Can they abrogate and derogate treaty rights? I think that’s what this bill is saying they can do. I need some clarification on this point.

The Hon. Patrick Brazeau talks about” targeted” and “informed investments” and “protecting investments” and wants to” expedite this legislation.” This bill is setting First Nations up to fail, and when they do, there will be punishment and significant penalties and strangers on their land selling them back their water. We all want clean safe drinking water for our communities, but at what price? We can not “expedite this legislation” until we understand the ramifications to such an action, and so far it’s not looking good.

Please take the time to read the whole thing. It’s enlightening and scary. We need to understand Bill S-11, and we need to start referring to it when we mail in our Empty Glasses for Water to the PM. As I learn and understand more I will share.

Miigwech, joanne

The Capacity Gap

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

Posted @ Water Canada on 28 May 2010 · Written by Kerry Freek, Editor, Water Canada

Earlier this week, the federal government introduced Bill S-11, the proposed First Nations Safe Drinking Water Act. The Act promises to bring First Nations water up to the same standards of other Canadian jurisdictions. To the uninitiated, this news reads like a sign of goodwill and cooperation. Below the surface, however, First Nations frustration is growing.

“Three-quarters of First Nations are adamantly opposed to this Bill,” said Merrell-Ann Phare of the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources at this week’s CFCAS Water Security Symposium in Ottawa. The two-day event covered water science, policy, and everything in between.

Phare didn’t tackle specifics, but she did state that while the promises of First Nations water legislation are in theory pretty good, it’s all about the follow-through. “The number one opposition to the Bill is the lack of capacity and resources,” she explained.

That’s exactly what the Assembly of First Nations is saying. Yesterday, National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo issued a press release claiming that the legislation will not in its current form meet the stated objective of ensuring First Nations have access to safe drinking water.

“This legislation will create new regulations for First Nations drinking water but does not specify how First Nations will be equipped with the facilities, skills and resources to meet those regulations,” said Atleo. “First Nations need infrastructure, training and support to meet the requirements of the new regulations. Regulations without the capacity and financial resources to support them will only set up First Nations to fail and to be punished for this. In my view, we must address the capacity gap as well as the regulatory gap. After all, the safety and health of First Nations people is the stated goal.”

Atleo’s concern is justified, but his argument isn’t new. Cash and resource-strapped communities all over Canada are struggling to implement standards that promote human and environmental health. “Just look at the financial impact on Ontario communities as they work their way through the implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act regulations,” said one of my colleagues yesterday.

Our coverage of the Canada-wide Strategy for the Management of Municipal Wastewater feedback (“Download Debate“) provides another prime example. With no accompanying funding strategy, the new regs (to be implemented over 30 years) have municipalities in a tizzy—downloaded costs are just another reason to fret over shrinking budgets.

Are these situations indicative of what might be a combination of inadequate consultation and forced political agenda?

Let’s add another level to the First Nations case. It’s not just about capacity—it’s about timing. This afternoon I spoke with Irving Leblanc, AFN’s director of housing and infrastructure. He cited the national audit that is currently underway to assess the capacity and needs for clean drinking water in First Nations communities. The audit is expected to be complete in December, and, he told me, it will give the government a better indication of the funding and capacity requirements.

These results (what Leblanc called “Class D estimates”) could have provided more accurate information upon which to base the Act. So why has Bill S-11 appeared months before the end of the study?

The National Chief is advocating partnership and discussion with stakeholders: “We must build on these recommendations and move forward based on the rights of First Nations peoples and governments and design solutions in full collaboration,” Atleo said yesterday. “Our communities have a clear understanding of the real needs and challenges in delivering safe drinking water and our voices must be heard.”

Back to this week’s CFCAS event. This week in Ottawa, scientists and policy experts came together to listen to each other and gain a better understanding of the state of Canada’s water and its management. I can’t count the number of times people commented on breaking down silos and beginning integration. If I took away one lesson from the symposium, it’s that we’ve got to listen and hear before we act. If the federal government’s announcement is any indication of our nation’s progress, we may still have a long way to go.

Link to article:

Send empty glasses to Harper, Algoma U students urge

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

By Staff
Tuesday, June 15, 2010



SAULT STE MARIE, ON – (June 15, 2010) – Students at Algoma University have responded to the proposed First Nations Water Legislation (Bill S-11), saying that while the efforts are long overdue, it is a small step in the right direction, with more work needed for the bill to carry any long-term viability.

“It’s concerning that the bill will create legislation, but will fail to implement adequate skills training and resources to First Nations communities to meet the regulations,” says Katie Yakasovich, vice-president, external of the Algoma University Students’ Union (AUSU). “It’s also disheartening that the government would spend $1.9 Million to create a fake lake in downtown Toronto, but will not invest in the health and sustainability of our communities.”

AUSU, in solidarity with the Shingwauk Anishnaabe Students Association (SASA), continues to work towards enlightening the federal government on the issues with the over 120 First Nations communities that do not have access to clean drinking water.

Algoma U graduate Joanne Robertson and supporters are actively working on the Empty Glass for Water campaign to raise awareness with the federal government that the number of water advisories is a problem that only the federal government working with our First Nations leaders can address.

“Bill S-11 provides no guarantees that drinking water infrastructure will be improved in our communities. One in six of our communities is on a boil water advisory,” says Robertson.

“We have support from across Canada to continue the efforts to ensure fair access to resources,” Yakasovich says. “Over 600,000 students have endorsed the campaign, and we will take that support to the next level as we force the decision-makers to be accountable, and ensure our message is heard. This was an issue that was raised when Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff was here for a town hall meeting. We need Ottawa to understand that leaving communities behind is never an option. The electorate will not have it.”

Algoma University students and people from across the country are encouraged to collect empty glasses to send to the prime minister’s office to send the message, and promote all communities to send an empty glass with a message to the prime minister, asking for fair access to a safe, clean drinking water.

About Algoma University Students’ Union

Algoma University Students’ Union represents over 1,000-full and part-time students in Sault Ste. Marie and Brampton ON, and is Local 82 of the Canadian Federation of Students.

About Algoma University

Algoma University offers a wide variety of liberal arts and sciences degree options including programs in psychology, computer science, business administration, fine arts, community economic & social development, and biology.

As the Canadian home of the internationally recognized M.Sc. CGT from the University of Abertay Dundee, Algoma University is at the forefront of computer games technology education.

Algoma University also offers accelerated second degree programs in business administration and computer science on its Brampton campus.

As a partner with Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, Algoma U is committed to respecting Anishinaabe knowledge and culture.

To learn more about Algoma University, visit here.