by Sue Eagle
Friday, March 22 is World Water Day.
I enjoy camping. I don’t mind roughing it for a week or so. I’ve camped in places where I’ve had to haul water and boil it before using it. I realize, though, that this is temporary, and I can go home, and turn on my tap, fill a cup and take a drink or turn on the shower. If it was part of my daily routine, hauling water and boiling it before using would take a lot of time and energy out of my day.
On January 21, 2013, 113 First Nations communities were living under a water advisory. Some of these First Nations are surrounded by water – lakes and rivers — but don’t have a clean water source. Their water is not safe for drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning. Some water advisories require water to be boiled before use, but others warn against contamination that heat cannot remove. Advisories are meant to be temporary, but in many First Nations, they are ongoing with no end in sight. Water issues impact hardest on the sick, elderly, women and children – the most vulnerable of the population.
As a country, Canada has the largest source of fresh water, but not all those living within Canada benefit from that water. In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the human right to water and sanitation. Clean drinking water is something that everyone should have access to. Unfortunately, our country doesn’t have a great track record on making things right regarding water in First Nations.
Last fall’s Omnibus Budget Bill (Bill C-45) introduced a number of changes to legislation that further threaten our water. Rather than taking care of vulnerable populations and ensuring fresh water for future generations, for all Canadians including First Nations, Canada is rolling out the red carpet for resource extraction companies with hopes of a quick fix to our country’s economic woes.
Do you want to make a difference? There is hope, even though there are no easy answers. For action ideas and more information, check the ACT and RESOURCE tabs at www.mythperceptions.ca . To make the jump to additional water materials on mythperceptions a bit quicker and easier, use your favourite search engine pairing mythperceptions and water in the search box.
We can make choices today that look to a future of fresh, clean, protected water for the generations to come. We have a responsibility as part of creation to care for what God has provided us.
Sue Eagle is Co-Coordinator of Indigenous Work for MCC Canada. She lives in Winnipeg with her family.