Archive for the ‘Infrastructure’ 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.”

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs – ‘Water is a Human Right’ campaign

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

This article was posted on Nation Talk,  2010/11/22

LINK to article.

Water is considered a basic human right according to many international treaties, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

But in CANADA, running water is not available to INDIGENOUS PEOPLE living in Manitoba. The Island Lake area of four reserves has a population of 10,000 and half of its homes DO NOT HAVE RUNNING WATER.

The Indigenous people of the Island Lake region have less clean water than people living in refugee camps overseas.

This isn’t happening in the third world, it’s happening in one of the WORLD’S RICHEST COUNTRIES.

Indigenous people in Canada live in third world conditions and MOST CANADIANS are NOT even AWARE of it.

If you CARE ABOUT PEOPLE in this country, if you are ASHAMED OF OUR GOVERNMENT and the way it treats Indigenous people, then take a stand.

Why should CANADA’S INDIGENOUS people be treated like THIRD WORLD CITIZENS?

Join us in the “WATER IS A HUMAN RIGHT” campaign to make Canada adhere to the same standards the United Nations says are rights FOR ALL.

We have prepaid postcards to the Prime Minister of Canada using the image above. They are available at AMC, 2nd floor, 275 Portage Ave., Winnipeg. You can also sign the online petition on the right or join our facebook group, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

For More Information:
Winnipeg Free Press: No Running Water

Is an investigative series of the lack of running water on First Nations Communities in the Island Lake region of Manitoba, for full story and details please visit:
United nation general assembly declares access to clean water and sanitation is a human right:
28 July 2010 – Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights, the General Assembly declared today, voicing deep concern that almost 900 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water.

UN News Centre

Winnipeg Free Press – Poor sanitation, poor health
(story on Jacob Flett, child in postcard campaign photo)

United Nations News Centre
1 October 2010 – The main United Nations body dealing with human rights has affirmed that the right to water and sanitation is contained in existing human rights treaties, and that States have the primary responsibility to ensure the full realization of this and all other basic human rights.
While the General Assembly declared in July that safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights, this is the first time that the Human Rights Council has declared itself on the issue….
Right to water and sanitation is legally binding, affirms key UN body

World Health Organization

Assembly of First Nations

Council for Canadians: Acting for Social Justice

Right to Water

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

Please go to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and sign the ‘Water is a Human Right’ petition.


This postcard is produced by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

Please download and print your own postcard and mail.

Note from Empty Glass for Water… please mail an empty glass for water to the Prime Minister of Canada asking him to get safe water to our communities in Manitoba! Miigwech.

LATEST NEWS: Manitoba Chiefs push for road in north, Route touted as key to get First Nations some running water

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

By Helen Fallding, Winnipeg Free Press, Nov 16/10


Speeding up construction of a $1.4-billion all-weather road from Norway House to Island Lake is the best way to ensure thousands of First Nations residents get running water, their chiefs said Monday.

The chiefs from Wasagamack, St. Theresa Point, Garden Hill and Red Sucker Lake flew to Winnipeg for a news conference at the Island Lake Tribal Council office, where they joined Manitoba Grand Chief Ron Evans in calling on the federal government to help pay for the road. All plumbing and construction supplies now have to be brought in via an ice road that was open for less than four weeks this year.


“We need to expedite the road that goes into that region,” Evans said, referring to the east-west route announced last week by the East Side Road Authority. A previous proposal for a road all the way up the east side of Lake Winnipeg was rejected because it would have been 168 kilometres longer.

“The province tells us that it would take 30 years… to build a road into that region if there’s no federal support,” the grand chief said.

He estimates that with federal help, the road could be built in less than 10 years. So far, the provincial government has committed $93 million — with more expected in today’s throne speech — and the federal government has committed nothing.

Ten more years is a long time for families to wait when they’re getting sick from overflowing outhouses and hauling water buckets from outdoor taps, so St. Theresa Point Chief David McDougall has started work on an emergency plan to protect the health of his people until multimillion-dollar piping can be installed.

He estimates that 364 outhouses need to be built on concrete pads in his community alone, and 314 water containers installed that hold at least the 350 litres per family per day needed to meet United Nations minimum health standards. Trucks would need to be bought and drivers hired to suck out sewage from the outhouses and deliver clean water.

McDougall said some homes likely don’t have driveways usable by delivery trucks, so road access work would also be required.

None of that can be done within existing budgets, the chief said. He said First Nations are criticized for running deficits when they try to meet local needs with an inadequate budget, when Indian Affairs should instead be accused of running a humanitarian deficit.

That department directed questions by the Free Press to Infrastructure Canada. In an email, Infrastructure Canada said it has not received a formal request from the Manitoba government for funding for new all-weather roads for the Island Lake region. “While most Infrastructure Canada funding has already been committed under existing sources of funds, if a proposal is received, it will be examined in the context of available funding.”

NDP MP Niki Ashton, who represents northern Manitoba, said she has raised the issue of roads to northeastern Manitoba numerous times in the House of Commons. She wondered why the federal government doesn’t make a long-term commitment to an all-weather road instead of spending money every year on ice-road maintenance, flying in emergency supplies and medevacs. The road would also open up possibilities for economic development like mines and tourism. “The fact that we’re able to send somebody to the moon 50 years ago just speaks to the imbalance when it comes to First Nations and not being able to build a road.”

McDougall said it costs about $25,000 to connect each home to existing water lines from his community’s treatment plant. He got plumbing only after his home burned down, making him eligible for a newer house. Garden Hill Chief Dino Flett is lucky enough to live on the side of town that got funding a few years ago for water hookup.

McDougall said he grew up in a family that managed to keep clean without running water by assigning all 11 kids chores. He said the unhealthy grime in some Island Lake homes is partly due to the “malaise” that sets in when people feel hopeless after generations of disruption by residential schools, adoption by outsiders and failed urban relocation programs.

As a former school principal, he believes in the power of education. “I’ve been trying to encourage people to look after a certain plot of land.”

The chiefs thanked the Free Press for a recent series of articles drawing attention to the water and sewer problems in Island Lake. (LINK:

“We are very much in Third World conditions back in Island Lake,” McDougall said. “The rest of the country never knew about it.”

Leader threatens to take road, water issues global

If the federal government does not take rapid action on an all-season road and emergency water and sewer solutions, Island Lake leaders will be forced to call on the international community, said St. Theresa Point Chief David McDougall, who chairs the Island Lake Tribal Council.

He said he would consider calling in humanitarian organizations that serve Africa and the Middle East.

The Winnipeg-based Mennonite Central Committee is already discussing whether it can help, following a series of Free Press stories highlighting the desperate living conditions in the Island Lake region.

Executive director Peter Rempel said the charity, which usually focuses its efforts overseas, is trying to arrange a meeting with Northern Manitoba Grand Chief David Harper. MCC wants his advice and the advice of local leaders and churches on “practical immediate solutions we could offer to alleviate the situation somewhat.” Macdonald Youth Services has already donated to the Island Lake Tribal Council some plastic water containers with spigots and cash to purchase rain barrels.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs will consider setting up a charitable foundation if it doesn’t get a quick response from St. Boniface MP Shelly Glover, who is parliamentary secretary for Indian Affairs, Grand Chief Ron Evans said.

The chiefs will distribute postcards showing an Island Lake child suffering from a water-related skin condition that they hope Manitobans will send to their MPs.


Budget Day announcements still not enough for Aboriginal women

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

This is an older article from 2008 that I found on the Native Women’s Association of Canada website. I wanted to include it because it is still relevant today. There was something said in it, that I think is important to think about…What is the point of improving standards for drinking water on reserve, when there is a housing crisis with no access to water?” My friend’s family lives with overcrowding in a Northern Ontario community. No water is hooked up to the house, and they needed more places to sleep so they took out all the bathroom fixtures to make another bedroom.

Money… infrastructure… resources…. zhoonyia… whatever you want to call it… we’re in short supply. There is something I learned not too long ago about federal funding… “the funding that the federal government gives to First Nation communities is less than half of what is available to federal, provincial and municipal governments to provide services to the non-Indigenous population of Canada.”* Remember this and share it, and question why it is this way.

*from the book: Denying the Source, The Crisis of First Nations Water Rights by Merrell-Ann S Phare.  Rocky Mountain Books, 2009. Page 11-12.

Ottawa, ON (February 26, 2008) – The third budget announced by the Conservative government still did not provide enough for Aboriginal women in Canada. The President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), Beverley Jacobs, was in Ottawa today to listen to budget deliberations.

Of importance to NWAC, today’s budget included a few investments for First Nations peoples in Canada, including improved child and family services on reserve, as well as increased health and education outcomes. Further, the announcements to improve access to safe drinking water for First Nations were welcomed; however, there are over 600 First Nations communities in Canada and the amount of the investments are no where near what is needed.

“This budget is a far cry from what is needed for Aboriginal peoples in Canada,” said President Jacobs. “What is the point of improving standards for drinking water on reserve, when there is a housing crisis with no access to water? When this government chose not to honour the Kelowna Accord, it promised an alternative plan for Aboriginal peoples. This budget delivers small investments, but we are still awaiting a ground-breaking strategy to finally pull the most marginalized segment of the Canadian population out of its current mire and onto a path towards prosperity. The commitments that were announced today are welcomed and are much needed; yet, in my perspective they are handouts and not strategically invested.”

President Jacobs hopes that the hiring of 2,500 more police officers will assist in resolving the hundreds of unresolved murder cases of Aboriginal women across the country. She hopes NWAC will have the resources to work with Correctional Services Canada to improve the human rights issues for federally sentenced Aboriginal women and reduce the highest percentage of the prison population.

These investments are still lacking in addressing the many issues facing Aboriginal women in Canada. President Jacobs added: “Like last year, I am disappointed that this budget contained no new commitments towards advancing the equality of women with no reference whatsoever to Aboriginal women or Métis. Work towards a new Action Plan was announced, but it comes as no surprise that we are seeing no immediate advancements and still do not experience equality today from the recent cuts to the Status of Women. A culturally relevant gender based analysis is crucial to all programming of the federal government.”

“What I find the most stunning is that Canada is doubling international aid to $5 billion, which is honourable. But why is it not doubling its efforts in combating poverty in its own back yard?” commented President Jacobs.

President Jacobs expressed caution on the idea of toppling the government. “While the government is still not doing enough and Minister Flaherty is playing petty politics in refusing to allow amendments to the budget, the defeat of the government and an election would delay important legislation that needs to be passed, including C-21, the long awaited amendment of the Canadian Human Rights Act.”
NWAC is an aggregate of 13 native women’s organizations and is the national voice of Aboriginal women in Canada.

For further information:
Joshua Kirkey, Media Coordinator
(613) 290-5680
mobile, (613) 722-3033
ext. 231, toll free (800) 461-4043