Amber Sears removes a glass stopper from a beaker, gives the contents a swirl and takes a whiff. The 23-year-old is a water lab technician and sniffing is her job. "You're smelling for musty and earthy smells," Sears said. "That's what happens when the spring runoff happens, when the vegetation comes into the water." She checks the scent wheel which offers descriptors like fishy, swampy and flowery. The wheel helps testers like Sears circle in on the aromatic analysis of our drinking water.
"Water is life, without it nothing survives, but for a long time now families in Chatham-Kent have been dealing with black water coming from their wells, jeopardizing their lives and livelihoods," he said.
Indigenous people are left out of water governance and policy decisions, despite their treaty rights and the high exposure of many Indigenous communities to drought, flooding and impaired source water quality.
'We're coming together to make awareness to take care of the water,' says elder Shirley Williams In 2003, when Anishnaabe elder Josephine Mandamin took her first ceremonial water walk around Lake Superior, she wanted to share the message that the water is sick and people need to fight for that water, to speak for that water and to love that water.
Wilbert Marshall says he's more confident in the work being done by an Irish company The chief of Potlotek First Nation says his community is tired of lip service from the government, and he's now putting his confidence in an Irish company to deal with the water issues.
On Monday, people in Cape Breton reserve advised not to use tap water to wash clothes, bathe or drink A group of First Nations chiefs in Atlantic Canada is blasting the federal government for what it sees as a lack of action in fixing the yearlong water problem in Potlotek First Nation in Cape Breton.
High levels of iron and manganese exceed 'esthetic objectives' for water quality A year after residents of Potlotek First Nation in Cape Breton rallied to protest the quality of their drinking water, the community has been advised by Health Canada not to drink the water, bathe in it or even wash clothes in it.
There are now 16 First Nations in Saskatchewan and one in Alberta producing some of the highest quality tap water in the world using the IBROM process. So there is proof that very poor quality water can be treated most effectively, economically and sustainably.
While the Canadian government says it's on track with its 2016 promise to bring safe water to First Nations communities within five years, some are still calling it an ambitious plan.
"First Nations communities are not homogenous. And the water source is not a homogenous source either, for these communities," said Lalita Bhardawaj, a toxicologist and public health professor at the University of Saskatchewan.
"There's no technical reason why we couldn't solve the drinking water problem," is what a retired engineering executive told The Globe and Mail, as part of this newspaper's investigation into the abysmal state of the water on the country's Indigenous reserves. Truer words were never spoken.
Behind every failed First Nations water plant is an unfortunate story. Assigning blame can be challenging: Although Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) pays for most on-reserve infrastructure and sets most of the rules governing design and construction, many other parties are involved, including project managers, engineering and construction firms and First Nations chiefs and councillors.
Serpent River’s woes resemble those of the 90 other Canadian reserves under drinking-water advisories. But there is a cruel twist: This water treatment plant is barely a year old. It is a small yet impressive modern facility, a bewildering but orderly arrangement of pumps, piping and gauges.
"We need to fix this," she said. "A lot of Canadians have been helping with water projects in Africa and all around the world and they had no idea that there were places in Canada where you couldn't just turn on the tap and drink the water, and so I think the consciousness has been raised."
Unfortunately, many small municipalities and First Nations communities in Saskatchewan do not have good-quality source water. Indeed, rural Saskatchewan has some of the poorest-quality raw water sources anywhere.
Dozens of boil water advisories have been issued in Alberta First Nations communities, one after E. coli was detected at a daycare, others after mice were found in water tanks.
In all, Health Canada has issued 56 drinking water advisories affecting First Nations communities in Alberta since April 2015 — more than the 52 orders Alberta Health Services made for the rest of the province over the same time period.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) has launched a new campaign aimed at pressuring the federal government to address the water quality issues in First Nations communities across Canada.
The Thirsty for Justice Campaign officially launched on Tuesday, National Aboriginal Day. It includes a website and a video chronicling the water quality problems faced by Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario.
Discrimination against First Nations people is a "legal fact" in Canada when it comes to safe drinking water, says a new report by Human Rights Watch.
The international, independent human rights organization released its report in Toronto on Tuesday calling for "urgent steps" by the federal and provincial government to resolve more than 100 boil-water advisories in First Nations across Canada.
Keewaytinook Okimakanak's (Northern Chiefs Council) Safe Water project provides real-time monitoring of water treatment plants in five First Nations in northwestern Ontario. It also provides support, training and certification for water plant operators.
Four engineering students are not waiting to put their education to work.
Jonathon Sinclair, Austin St. Denis, Austin Rosom and Cody Braun wanted to do a final project that would have a lasting impact. After months of research, they chose to focus on potable drinking water on a First Nation.
The Friends of Shoal Lake 40 were in Winnipeg today to offer samples of dirty water to the lunch-time crowd at a downtown sky-walk. They hoped to raise awareness about the lack of clean drinking water in many First Nations communities.
More than 300,000 Canadians contract an acute stomach bug every year from the municipally-supplied water that comes out of their taps, some likely ending up in hospital or even dying, a new government study suggests.
The Neskantaga First Nation in northern Ontario is demanding that all federal parties make First Nations health an election issue.
The fly-in community in the James Bay lowlands has the longest-standing boil-water advisory in the country — more than 20 years. More than 300 people have been forced to live under a boil water advisory since 1995.
A reserve cut off from the mainland and under a boil-water advisory for almost two decades is taking its case to the United Nations.
Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, which straddles the Manitoba-Ontario boundary, became isolated a century ago during construction of an aqueduct which carries water to Winnipeg. The reserve has no all-weather road and has been without clean water for 17 years.