Federal technicians are in Attawapiskat to help address the water crisis that has enveloped the First Nation, Indigenous Services Canada said Tuesday. We have a housing shortage that sees on average one home for every seven people, or … The community has been evacuated for several weeks while its tainted water system is being repaired. Leadership of the fly-in community located near the midway point of the west bank of James Bay declared a […] ).No issues ever to be reported. The tap water in the Ontario First Nation of Attawapiskat isn't safe. In c. 2009 GENIVAR was asked by the community and Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada (AANDC, then INAC) "to identify a suitable water … While Attawapiskat was not under one of these drinking water advisories prior to the discovery of its water quality issues, the community has faced crisis before. Closed Captioning and Described Video is available for many CBC shows offered on CBC Gem. 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"When I saw that tweet … I felt really angry," said Sutherland. Attawapiskat resident Adrian Sutherland said he was irked Sunday after seeing a tweet from Environment Minister Catherine McKenna praising the purity of Ottawa's city water while his community faced an advisory warning that their own water could be harmful. They seem happy and can spend their time doing other things for their family instead of having to fetch water every day. In the early ‘80s, when I was four or five years old, there were 16 of us living in my grandparents’ cabin. Nakogee also spoke with Gull about what the band leadership plans to deal with the situation. Historically, the community drew water from the Attawapiskat River and Monument Channel by buckets and pails. Realistically, I know it’s not going to happen in the next few months. Daigle said the department has spent about $1.4 million on the community's water system since 2018. The federal government says it’s prepared to send a team of engineers to Attawapiskat to address its water crisis, but the chief of the Northern Ontario First Nation says the community needs a longer term solution. It’s my home. We have a housing shortage that sees on average one home for every seven people, or as many as 13 people sharing a dwelling. "It's for sure a top priority, that is why we are acting very quickly on this," said Deagle. In the last 10 years, water “dispensaries” (reverse-osmosis water treatment plants) were installed in the community. Our previous house was so mouldy and unhealthy to live in that we chose to demolish it with an excavator and start over. My community of Attawapiskat First Nation has declared a state of emergency. Brent Patterson. Canada’s Obligation to End the First Nations Water Crisis. Back then, only teachers and hospital staff had the privilege of having access to running water. While still safe, the drinking water is starting to register rising levels of THMs and HAAs. Adrian Sutherland sings about resilience and the difficult living conditions facing Attawapiskat in Midnight Shine’s “Leather Skin.”. This puts remote First Nation communities at a disadvantage, because banks aren’t willing to take on the risk. Attawapiskat Chief Wants 'Water, Sewer.. Yet, Attawapiskat First Nation was continually dealing with a water crisis and if you recall not too long ago, … It’s not unrealistic to expect a mobile water treatment centre to be built, like the types mining companies use in remote areas to keep clean water flowing from their taps. Instead of blaming each other and avoiding action. On a local level, I feel more could have been done to secure the capital needed for new and better water infrastructure. It’s what I had become accustomed to. This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be accurate. The only lasting solution to the nagging water woes would be to change the community's water source to the Attawapiskat River — a conclusion reached by studies in 2008 and 2011. New attention was drawn to the water crisis over the weekend when Chelsea Jane Edwards, an Attawapiskat resident and Indigenous rights activist, issued a … Contaminated water is just one problem on top of the other challenges Attawapiskat is already facing. Attawapiskat has been plagued with water "supply, treatment, and distribution challenges" since at least 1992, according to Peters. The Attawapiskat First Nation Band Council has declared a state of emergency last week over concerns about water quality. It’s no small feat. A new water source is also part of a broader plan for a desperately needed expansion of the community, which is bursting at the seams and pushing its existing water and wastewater systems to a near breaking point. I’d like to see a plan in place for Attawapiskat, and then for every other First Nation in Canada that is currently without drinking water. In the interim, we need a reliable source of clean drinking water. Keep These Pandemic Safety Rules In Mind, Here’s The Last Day You Can Pay Using These Old Canadian Banknotes, Winners And Losers: What A Biden Presidency Means For Canada’s Economy, How To Open A Stubborn Produce Bag, The Pandemic-Safe Way. Attawapiskat locals warned that their water contains “chemicals” With the indigenous community still living in near third-world conditions, the Canadian government must deliver them their basic needs and human rights. THMs and HAAs cannot be cleared through boiling water. They cautioned us to open a window for ventilation when running the tap, because the harsh chemicals can become airborne. Siddak Ahuja Montreal, QC As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to the Canadian Teachers' Federation at its annual general meeting in Ottawa on Thursday, a row of teachers silently held up letters spelling "Attawapiskat." Lack of access to clean water is something that has long existed in this country, and it still does today. It would be a start. “It was like stepping into a fourth world,” Angus wrote in an article for the Huffington Post Canada. 17, 2016. The crisis is a predictable outcome resulting from conscious choices made … My family is currently homeless — my wife and kids live in a shack that I built as we prepare to construct a new house. It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges. By Ben Spurr Staff Reporter. Attawapiskat residents have been warned to limit their time in the shower and not use hot water while washing because it opens the skin's pores, said Sutherland. It’s an almost-daily chore lugging around four, five or more 10-gallon jugs. Attawapiskat's current water treatment plant was built in 2001. The homes in Attawapiskat didn’t have running water at all, only the hospital did. "I think there will be more protests if we don't get answers or solutions to deal with this matter efficiently.". The water is so contaminated that you can’t bathe more than three minutes in it, and we are supposed to avoid rinsing food in it. Right from the beginning, we were told not to drink the water coming into our homes. Gull said the issue goes back to the 1970s when Ottawa decided use the lake water, which was originally intended to only feed the school, homes for teachers and the nursing station, to supply the whole community. Attawapiskat First Nation gained national attention when it declared a state of emergency over lack of housing. The remains of a Canadian flag can be seen flying over a building in Attawapiskat, Ont. Mon., April 18, 2016 timer 7 min. Families are starting to talk seriously about uprooting and leaving. Audience Relations, CBC P.O. Download the full report . When you did laundry in it, all your whites would turn yellow or brown. We want answers.". By Ben Spurr Staff Reporter. It’s where my grandkids are. The drinking water crisis on reserves can be resolved, and yet it has persisted for decades. I see people walking around cities like Vancouver where we just performed, and I think about the fact they don’t have to worry about things like contaminated water. A state of emergency has been declared in the northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat after tests showed its drinking water had potentially … The community has a separate system specifically for its drinking water supply that is filtered through a reverse-osmosis system which is distributed through two watering stations where community members can fill up jugs. Attawapiskat locals warned that their water contains “chemicals” ... An article that was written about the region eight years ago, highlighting its “water crisis,” still seems relevant today. The Attawapiskat First Nation Band Council has declared a state of emergency last week over concerns about water quality. The situation of indigenous communities in Canada has been dire, to say the least. update Article was updated Apr. We continued to draw water from the river for drinking and cleaning. When you look at the current water emergency in Attawapiskat, it’s the result of failures on all levels of governance. It’s easy to start to wonder if we made the right choices by staying here in Attawapiskat. He said most homes in Attawapiskat don't have exhaust fans to get rid of the harmful chemical vapours emitted by the tap water. My youngest boy, Junior, says he doesn’t want to live here anymore, either. "It wasn't meant for the community," he said. update Article was updated Apr. Copyright © 2020 HuffPost.com, Inc. "HuffPost" is a registered trademark of HuffPost.com, Inc. All rights reserved. A spokesperson for Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O'Regan said a health official with the department would be travelling up to the community as early as next week. In recent years, though, I have had the opportunity to travel to other cities with my band, Midnight Shine, and I now see how accessible water is everywhere else. If this happened in Timmins, they would deal with it the same day.". Among several serious concerns about shelter and health, he noted that 19 families […] "I feel kind of disappointed and really upset that the youth and the people in the community are not getting the help that they need now," said Nakogee. They need to dig up all the aging infrastructure, all the pipes, and replace them. The federal government has pledged solutions to Attawapiskat‘s drinking water crisis, after the First Nation declared a state of emergency earlier this month due to … Campaign to raise $1M to fund pilot water project aimed at solving water crisis in Attawapiskat and serve as a sustainable model for First Nations … It has been many decades of collective neglect, on all sides. His office reportedly said $1.5 million has been approved for repairs to our existing treatment plant, and they’re planning on flying in drinking water because people are starting to lose faith in the increasingly dilapidated dispensaries. In winter we melted snow, and kept a hole open in the ice on the river so we could access water year-round. 8 années ago. Adrian Sutherland is a singer, songwriter, recording artist, and the frontman and founder of roots-rock band Midnight Shine. The Attawapiskat band council in northern Ontario has declared a state of emergency after tests showed tap water had potentially harmful levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs) —  byproducts of the disinfection process created when chlorine interacts with high levels of organic materials in the community's water source. Attawapiskat held a band meeting on the issue this past Friday and informed residents of the water situation. It was harsh because of the chemicals used to treat it — so harsh you could smell the water coming from the tap. "We didn't have indoor plumbing at that time.". When Attawapiskat First Nation declared a state of emergency in October 2011, Charlie Angus (MP Timmins-James Bay) visited the community to find out why. Part of it is the federal and provincial government’s chronic underfunding of capital projects in Indigenous communities. Prolonged exposure to THMs and HAAs can cause skin irritation and could increase the risk of cancer, according to a consultant report prepared for the community. It is getting harder to trust the drinking water. Attawapiskat Chief Ignace Gull said he is worried about the state of the drinking water. This is their home, too. This situation has taken a real toll on my wife, Judy, who is one of the strongest people I know. I don't know what to do," he said. It has high levels of a chemical byproduct produced by the chlorination process in the community's ailing water plant. In 1976, AANDC recommended that the community water supply should come from an inland lake (slough) just northeast of the community. How the Attawapiskat suicide crisis unfolded. To fix Attawapiskat alone, we’re looking at two or three years minimum. But even with my businesses and a growing music career, every bank I approached still turned me down. He works for CBC's Indigenous unit based out of Ottawa. This is another thing most Canadians don’t know — mortgages that are available through the Canadian banking system aren’t typically available to homeowners in the North. This First Nation community has never had access to safe drinking water, and now residents are told to refrain from taking long showers or washing food, due to the dangerous levels of toxins in the water. They can cause cancer, and boiling water does nothing to get rid of them. That said, harmful levels trihalomethanes (THM) and haloacetic acids (HAAs), chemical byproducts from the water disinfection process, had been detected in our supply. "I am very concerned about my family right now. Situated on the banks of Attawapiskat Lake in Northern Ontario, Neskantaga First … In April 2016, it declared a state of emergency after a succession of attempted suicides that followed the self-inflicted death of 13-year-old Sheridan Hookimaw. We have a business, debts and family. The house I was living in finally got running water in 1998 — only 21 years ago. Attawapiskat has lurched from crisis to crisis for years. Jorge Barrera is a Caracas-born, award-winning journalist who has worked across the country and internationally. NEWS: Water crisis in Attawapiskat. At an emergency meeting held to inform us of the news, band council shared a report they had received two weeks earlier — I don’t know why they sat on it a full two weeks before they notified the community. Three weeks after Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency over its water quality and 14 days into a hunger strike to demand accountability, there are no signs of concrete actions from the federal government to address the water crisis in this First Nations community. "We shouldn't be going through this kind of stuff, to declare a state of emergency. Over time, the damage to the home will make it cost prohibitive to repair; the home may even become uninhabitable. Attawapiskat is also looking for more housing and an all season road to connect the isolated community to the rest of the country, Shisheesh said. Box 500 Station A Toronto, ON Canada, M5W 1E6. This crisis is testing everyone’s resolve. Contractor’s ‘Hope Stoves’ Help Homeless People Cook, Stay Warm, Fancy A Ski Trip? Singer/songwriter from Attawapiskat, Midnight Shine's frontman. People just don’t have a clue there are tens of thousands of Canadians who have no access to clean water — many of us who have never had access. I struggle now with just how not normal conditions are in Attawapiskat. Mon., April 18, 2016 timer 7 min. Mining push continues despite water crisis in Neskantaga First Nation and Ontario’s Ring of Fire. Attawapiskat First Nation. Sutherland tweeted a photo of himself wearing a respirator mask to make his point. When the water situation came to light, she broke down and cried. It’s 2019, and many people in the North still live in third-world conditions. The Neskantaga First Nation has had a boil-water advisory in place for 26 years. Today, at nearly 42 years old, I have lived half my life without running water. Sutherland said Attawapiskat continues to lurch from one crisis to another — housing, suicide and now water — and he's heard more talk from people looking to leave the community for good. Contaminated water is just one problem on top of the other challenges Attawapiskat is already facing. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was confronted with a silent protest of his handling of the Attawapiskat water crisis on Thursday at a meeting of Canadian teachers in Ottawa. Attawapiskat has long struggled with THM and HAA levels due to the high level of naturally occurring organic material in the lake where the community draws its water. She honestly feels like leaving the North, and has said that more than a few times already. Rangers are also assisting in Neskantaga First Nation in Northern Ontario. As told to Nicholas Mizera, Perspectives editor, HuffPost Canada. In a perfect world, solving the housing crisis on Attawapiskat would require a large lottery win. For my entire life — right up to this very day — we have never had clean water flowing from the taps in our homes in Attawapiskat. In some cases, we’d also collect water from ditches for the laundry. I can’t even imagine what would happen if a city like Vancouver — or any urban centre — had a contamination issue with their water. He said there are a lot of concerns about the health impacts of the chemical byproducts in the water. How the Attawapiskat suicide crisis unfolded. Attawapiskat, located about 490 kilometres north of Timmins, Ont., is a fly-in community connected by an ice road to Moosonee, Ont., in the winter. In some cases, they also need to locate new sources of clean water for the long-term. Nakogee said he protested at the band office on behalf of the community's young people and to urge the band leadership to find a permanent solution to Attawapiskat's water problems. I don’t think is something to be proud of! Father, grandfather, husband, traditional knowledge keeper of Cree culture. Lytton is just one among hundreds of First Nations that have suffered from a water crisis in Canada. "Attawapiskat should be drinking the same quality of water the people in Ontario and Canada take for granted," he said. read. Even in the face of all of this, it would still be very difficult for my wife and I to leave. Attawapiskat chief understands the 'fears' of water quality concerns, CBC's Journalistic Standards and Practices. "We want to know how we are going to deal with this. This First Nation community has never had access to safe drinking water, and now residents are told to refrain from taking long showers or washing food, due to the dangerous levels of toxins in the water. In 2011, a housing crisis pushed the Ontario community into the national consciousness after images surfaced of families living in tents and shacks with no running water. Practically speaking, I don’t think there’s really much of a difference between our recently declared water crisis and the water conditions we’ve lived with in Attawapiskat for as long as I can remember. Including right here in Attawapiskat. Gull said he asked officials with Indigenous Services Canada during a teleconference call on Monday to provide free bottled water to the community of 2,000, because many can't afford to purchase supplies from the local Northern Store. He said residents have also been warned not to wash their food with the tap water and to ventilate a room whenever tap water is running because THMs and HAAs can get into the air. All, only the hospital did buckets and pails access to clean for! Problem would be dealt with immediately, instead of being neglected for decades 20 years are to. O ’ Regan and his team visited our community two weeks ago all your would! Matter efficiently. `` it — so harsh you could smell the water coming from the tap water issue ''! Will be more protests if we do n't know what to do, he! 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