In a recent and hard-hitting article in Policy Options, Pam Palmater, a Mi’kmaw lawyer from Eel River Bar First Nation, author, activist and Associate Professor and Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University in Toronto, writes about the water crisis many First Nations face, saying it’s a crisis that is “entirely of Canada’s own making.”
The 2019 federal budget tabled this week makes some small progressive steps forward by offering some relief on student loans, enrolling more seniors in Canada Pension Plan, and providing other funding aimed at the so-called “middle class.” But it fails to provide adequate funding in key areas such as pharmacare, eliminating drinking water advisories in First Nations, and the funding needed for a just transition in our economy in the face of climate change.
Yesterday, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court upheld an injunction from Alton Gas barring Mi’kmaq water protectors from protecting their land and water.
As described on the Stop Alton Gas website, “Alton Gas has a hugely destructive plan to create salt caverns in which to store natural gas, by dumping the equivalent of 3,000 tons of hard salt into the Shubenacadie River every day. This massive 50-year project would seriously harm the river ecosystem and put the health, livelihoods and rights of the Mi’kmaq people at risk. It is also in contravention of the Fisheries Act, which prohibits the deposit of ‘deleterious substances’ into water frequented by fish.”
The project did not meet consultation requirements with local indigenous communities. “In January 2017, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled that Sipekne’katik First Nation was not properly consulted during the environmental assessment process. This consultation has still not occurred,” the website notes.
The Nelson Chapter of the Council of Canadians is co-hosting an event on March 22 – World Water Day – to help raise community awareness about the importance of water.
The United Nations declared March 22 World Water Day in 1993. According to the UN’s website, the day is “a means of focusing attention on the importance of water and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The theme for World Water Day 2019 is 'Leaving no one behind.’”
The Nelson chapter of the Council of Canadians is working with a number of other groups to educate and engage people to think about how best to protect this precious resource.
The groups will be asking: “Where does your water come from? How does it get to the tap? How do we plan to keep it flowing as the population increases and the climate changes? How can local citizens help through conservation and awareness?”
As part of the global student strike for climate started by Greta Thunberg, an estimated 1.4 million youth walked out of class on Friday, March 15. This was spread across 2,229 events in 128 countries on every continent, and it was the largest ever climate mobilization to date.
In Canada, more than 160,000 took part in the global #FridaysforFuture day of action. Of these 150,000 were in one massive march in Montreal, which had the largest turnout of any city worldwide. But 79 other school walkouts took place across the country, with thousands turning up in Ottawa, Vancouver, and Victoria too.