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World
water day

Why do twenty-eight First Nations communities STILL have long term Drinking Water Advisories?

Water is Life graphic

Canada must uphold the human right to water which guarantees access to safe drinking water for all.

Dear Prime Minister, graphic

Twenty-eight First Nations communities in Canada do not have access to safe drinking water. They have Drinking Water Advisories in place and cannot drink tap water unless it has been boiled first to sterilize it.  

Some of these communities have been forced to boil all their drinking water for almost thirty years! Entire generations have grown up without access to safe tap water.  

During the 2015 federal election, Prime Minister Trudeau promised to eliminate DWAs within five years. Some progress was made but for the last three years, there has been very little improvement. It is clear that the federal government has lost any sense of urgency for solving this problem. 

Can you imagine any non-indigenous community in Canada being forced to endure such conditions for decades? Neither can we. This World Water Day, join us in renewing public attention on this important issue and help us pressure the federal government to finally solve it.    

First Nations reserves with drinking water advisories

It’s time for our elected leaders to finally eliminate the remaining drinking water advisories. 

Add your thoughts to the letter below telling Prime Minister Trudeau to fix this problem now. Please share it with friends and family- many people are not aware that whole communities still have to boil all their drinking water.

Fill out the form below to receive your free World Water Day Teachers Kit.

the problem

In Canada, the federal government has a special responsibility to make sure that people living on First Nations reserves have clean water to drink.

The treaties that we signed with First Nations long ago still bind us and they must be honoured.

Our First Nations treaty partners have not benefitted nearly as much as we have. We are all responsible for ensuring our governments respect and abide by the treaties.

For decades, the federal government has failed to provide enough money to build and operate the necessary water treatment equipment on many reserves.

In 2015, Prime Minister Trudeau pledged to solve this issue within five years.

But just three years ago as that deadline loomed, the Parliamentary Budget Officer warned that there remained important shortfalls in federal funding for the maintenance of existing water treatment equipment and for the training required to operate it.

We have to do better.

It’s time for our elected leaders to finally eliminate the remaining drinking water advisories. 

This is what needs to be done: 

  • Address underlying issues such as inadequate infrastructure, funding, and capacity through long-term commitments and collaborative approaches to end long-term drinking water advisories.
  • Ensure equitable access to safe and reliable drinking water through investments in infrastructure, capacity-building, and community-led initiatives that prioritize Indigenous knowledge and values.
  • Develop sustainable solutions that address the root causes of long-term drinking water advisories, including adequate funding, regulatory changes, and community-led initiatives that promote local ownership and control.
  • Adopt a collaborative and community-led approach that centers Indigenous knowledge, values, and perspectives in the development and implementation of long-term solutions to address long-term drinking water advisories.

So far, thousands of water drops and more than 20,000 emails have been delivered to the prime minister’s office

Young activists can use this printable Water drop to draw, write, and colour their own message.

Long-term drinking water advisories with public systems on reserves

First Nation Reserves with long-term drinking water advisories