NAN deputy grand chief Les Loutit
The Wawatay News reports, “The dire lack of safe drinking water on northern Ontario First Nations will not be remedied by new federal government water quality legislation, Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) has warned. NAN deputy grand chief Les Loutit denounced the federal government’s introduction of the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act, calling it ‘an attempt by the federal government to unload its responsibility for water quality to First Nations.’
Loutit noted that the act fails to address the ‘critical lack of infrastructure in NAN communities.’ …(Loutit says), ‘Water is a basic human right, and continued failure by the federal government to address the drinking water and wastewater needs of NAN First Nations will lead to more boil water advisories, evacuations and serious health risks to our communities.'”
Other media reports have noted:
“Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak said the bill is still a major invasion of First Nations autonomy under the treaties because it allows for the imposition of provincial standards and it gives the minister or prime minister broad sweeping powers. ‘It’s more of an imposition on aboriginal rights rather than it is about clean water at this point,’ he said”
“Treaty 7 (in Southern Alberta) Grand Chief Charles Weaselhead cautioned that without funding for infrastructure and staff training, the act may prove impotent against the challenge of raising water standards on reserves. ‘It’s a good first step,’ said Weaselhead. ‘But regulations without capacity and financial resources to support them will only set up First Nations to fail. We must address the capacity gap as well as the regulatory gap. The Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act alone cannot and will not ensure the safety of First Nations drinking water.'”
An overview blog on the ‘new’ Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act bill, the previous S-11, and our longstanding demands for funding for water for First Nations is at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=13825.