Over a thousand people poured into the streets of downtown Winnipeg Friday to bring attention to the dozens of First Nations across Canada currently under boil water advisories. Roughly 1,100 people, including more than 800 students from the Seven Oaks School Division, took part, organizers estimate. Carrying signs, the demonstrators walked from city hall down Main Street to Portage Avenue, and then up Memorial Boulevard, before ending at the Manitoba Legislative Building.
“Far too often, governments in Canada have demonstrated that they place little value on the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples and the revitalization of their cultures and traditions,” Tara Scurr, business and human rights campaigner with Amnesty International Canada, said in a statement Thursday.
There is also concern the changes that were made that allowed some of the advisories to be lifted were just temporary fixes. There are long-term, structural problems with the water treatment systems in many Indigenous communities that have not been addressed. Many of these places lack the proper equipment needed to remedy the operational issues with which they are confronted.
The protesters in northern British Columbia had camped out for days amid bitter cold and deep snow, manning a checkpoint to prevent construction vehicles from entering the territory of the Wet’suwet’en nation. Their demonstrations, part of a fight against a multibillion-dollar natural gas pipeline, galvanized supporters across the country and at his town hall meeting, the prime minister was forced to content with a barrage of angry questions.
Representatives for the town of Pictou, N.S., did not learn the proposed route for a new effluent pipe from Northern Pulp would cross their watershed until the plan was made public in media reports. Officials from the pulp mill met with Pictou Landing First Nation officials and fishermen's associations several weeks ago to detail the new proposed route after problems were discovered with the original route.
Today, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, congratulated Horse Lake First Nation on the opening of their new water treatment system. The new water treatment system in Horse Lake is critical to the community's efforts to ensure future generations have access to clean water. The new system features dual media filtration, reverse osmosis membranes, and ultra-violet light radiation.
Today, Randy Boissonnault, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, visited Kehewin Cree Nation and congratulated Chief Brenda Vanguardand the entire community on the official sod turning for their new water treatment system. This new water treatment system is critical to the community's efforts to lift their long-term drinking water advisory.