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

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.

Water Walk 2011

January 31st, 2011

NORTH SCHEDULE, subject to change (Updated January 31, 2011)

May 21         Churchill, Manitoba send off. (train departs 7:30pm)

May 23         Winnipeg, Manitoba (trains arrives 4:45pm)

May 24         Richer, Manitoba

May 25         Hadashville, Manitoba

May 26         Falcon Lake,

May 27         Royal Lake

May 28         Kenora, Ontario

May 29         Sioux Narrows

May 30         Nestor Falls

June 1          Manitou Rapids, International Falls

June 7          Duluth, Minnesota

June 10        Bad River, Wisconsin

20 overnights

More information:

Facebook: Water Walk 2011

or email me @

WATER WALK 2011, Walkers from the NORTH Tentative Schedule

January 19th, 2011

May 25       Churchill, Manitoba send off.
May 28       Winnipeg, Manitoba
June 1         Emerson, Manitoba
June 3         Grand Forks, Minnesota
June 4         Crookston, Minnesota
June 6         Bemidji, Minnesota
June 8         Grand Rapids, Minnesota
June 10       Duluth, Minnesota
June 13       Bad River, Wisconsin

For more information please go to

Facebook group: Water Walk 2011

Ni guh Izhi chigay  Nibi onji   –   I will do it for the water.

WATER WALK 2011, Walkers from the East, Tentative Schedule

January 17th, 2011

Leaving Machias, Maine
May 7 Bangor, Maine
May 8 Skowhegan, Maine
May 9-10 Armstrong, Quebec
May 11 Vallee Jonction
May 12 Levis, Quebec
May 13 Victoriaville, Quebec
May 14 Drummondville, Quebec
May 15 Longueuil, Quebec
May 16 Montreal, Quebec
May 17,18 Cornwall, Ontario
May 19, 20 Ottawa, Ontario
May 21 Pembroke, Ontario
May 22 Deep River, Ontario
May 23 Stonecliffe, Ontario
May 24 Mattawa, Ontario
May 25 North Bay, Ontario
May 26, 27 Sudbury, Ontario
May 28 McKerrow, Ontario
May 29 Serpent River, Ontario
May 30 Thessalon, Ontario
May 31, June 1 Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
June 2, 3 Newberry, Michigan
June 4, 5 Munising, Michigan
June 6, 7 Marquette, Michigan
June 8 Ishpeming, Michigan
June 9 Ironwood, Michigan
June 10 Bad River, Wisconsin

35 days to Meeting Place

For more information:

Facebook group: Water Walk 2011

Water Walk 2011 update from Josephine Mandamin

January 14th, 2011

Waterwalk 2011… update from Josephine Mandamin

Much has happened since word went out over the holidays about the 2011 Waterwalk . Nothing can happen until volunteers come forward and they have. The successful carrying of the ocean water from the 4 cardinal points will be a reality once it is mingled on June 12, 2011 with Gichiogimaagumee or Lake Superior as it is called.

Fond memories come back of past waterwalks where people so generously came to help out in whatever way they could. Food and water/juices would be brought to us, someone would have a place for us to stay for the night and church people opened their doors to give us a place to cook and sleep, community centers made cots for us to rest, or money would be received from collections made by youth, and someone would come by and tell us to gas up at the gas station and fill up our vehicles. Helping hands came and rubbed us down when our bones and feet were weary. Kindness helps move the water easily.

This spring will be quite the same in terms of asking youth to be more active in carrying the water to the destination in Bad River, Wisconsin to the end of Madigan Road. The Aunties, Uncles and Grandmothers will assist in the Spirit of the Water. Knowing them, they will not be stopped from carrying the water. The North has no roads so the water will travel by train for some distance. The West group will use horses for some distance, the South will utilize runners for some distance and the East will use New Balance. It is still early for proposals to go out for financial assistance as much hardware will be required by all groups; such as van rentals, cell phone compatibility, cameras, and brochure/printing to name a few.

A Central Communications Post has been graciously offered to us from Shingwauk University wherein a space is used for computer work. This will be under the careful wings of Joanne Robertson at:

We now have a central account for donations.
Donation account – Bank of Montreal, Transit #00507,
Account #8996-769
More update will follow as we proceed. Me i ewe, Miigwech.

VIDEO: Shoal Lake FN, Unama’ki + CIER

December 17th, 2010

“CIER, the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources, helps Canadian First Nations manage their environmental issues, including access to safe drinking water. Merrell-Ann Phare, the Executive Director of CIER, visited the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation reserve to better understand their issues. Her goal is to see how CIER might be able to help.”

Some of the standout information in this video:

- we know that 1 in 5 of our FNs lives with a water advisory, CIER tells us that in reality it is 1 in 3

- Shoal Lake FN has been on a boil water advisory for 18 years… that means that children have grown to adults with these conditions… they’ve never known anything different

- Shoal Lake FN supplies water to Winnipeg… ironic for sure… an observer would surmise from this action that Winnipeg’s children are more important than Shoal Lake’s children… we need to change this… and I’m sure that as more Canadians become aware of this, they will act to see that it is changed… this would be a good time to mail in an empty glass for water to the Prime Minister, for the people of Shoal Lake… 18 years – the length of time it takes for our babies to become adults – is long enough.

- Merrell-Ann Phare states that the biggest water issue for FNs is the ability to control and protect sources of drinking water… she explains that CIER’s work is to go upstream to see how the problem was created

- Shelley Denny shares that the same guidelines that apply to aquatic species applies to drinking water. This was very good to hear… lots of things I read and hear, people compartmentalize water into neat categories… but they are NOT separate issues…  quality and quantity of water for plants, animals, fish, and humans is all ONE issue… humans have messed the water up for everyone… it’s good to see people like Shelley Denny and the Unama’ki Institute that are combining traditional knowledge with science to maintain a healthy watershed.

Miigwech to Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, CIER and the Unama’ki Institute for your work.

CIER, Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources

Unama’ki Institute

youtube link: RBC Blue Water Project 02: CIER

Right to water and sanitation is legally binding, affirms key UN body

November 24th, 2010
A young boy getting a drink of water from an open pipe.

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 realisation 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.

“This means that for the UN, the right to water and sanitation, is contained in existing human rights treaties and is therefore legally binding,” said the UN Independent Expert on human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque.

“This landmark decision has the potential to change the lives of the billions of human beings who still lack access to water and sanitation,” she said of the resolution adopted yesterday by the Geneva-based Council.

Almost 900 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water and more than 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. Studies also indicate about 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year and 443 million school days are lost because of water- and sanitation-related diseases.

The Assembly’s resolution recognized the fundamental right to clean water and sanitation, but did not specify that the right entailed legally binding obligations.

The Council closed this gap by clarifying the foundation for recognition of the right and the legal standards which apply, according to a news release.

“The right to water and sanitation is a human right, equal to all other human rights, which implies that it is justiciable and enforceable,” said Ms. de Albuquerque. “Hence from today onwards we have an even greater responsibility to concentrate all our efforts in the implementation and full realization of this essential right.”

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

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

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.


“No Running Water”, Winnipeg Free Press

November 17th, 2010

A special investigation by asst. city editor Helen Fallding and photojournalist Joe Bryksa, partially funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Please go to this link and…

  1. view the film
  2. read the numerous articles
  3. view the slideshows

This is an incredibly informative body of work exposing 3rd world conditions in Canada.

Our elders, babies, neighbours, should not be living without safe water and sanitation.

Please visit this site…


Helen Fallding: “Encourage your church or favourite charity to consider raising money for emergency supplies to help northern communities reduce health risks while they wait for government funding of expensive new water infrastructure. Free soap, towels, rainwater tanks and water containers with spigots would be a godsend in Island Lake communities where people are so poor soap has been stolen from school washrooms and water buckets from the delivery program for elders. Perhaps Porta-Potties could be set up for those without decent outhouses.”

Note to readers: If you find a charity willing to help improve water and sanitation on First Nations, email so we can write a story alerting other readers who want to help.