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We all know that Canada has the largest freshwater resources in the world, as Canada has approximately 20% of world total freshwater resources and half of this approximately 7% is renewable fresh water. Despite our large supply of fresh water, it is surprising that we still face issues with its distribution to everybody with the same quality and quantity. As of December 18th, 2017, there were 1069 “Boiled Water” advisories, 55 “Do Not Consume advisories”, 59 “Algae” advisories, on First Nation Reserves across Canada. First Nations have been dealing with poor water quality for a very long time as the longest advisory in place since 1995 in Neskantaga First Nation. As First Nations continue to face these challenges, we must ponder – what it is that we the people can do to improve our lives? As we all know, successive government for a very long time has ignored these water-related issues, and despite the “pledges” by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his fellow MP’s, nothing has changed.   Take the Do not consume water advisory issued to the people of Grassy Narrows First Nations on June 26th, 2014 as an example. Moreover, even after 3 years and repeated promises from various level of government there still remains a, “Do Not Consume” water advisory near Grassy Narrows First Nation reserve. This is all because the governments of the past and present failed to act on this issue on reserve. This advisory issued, when reserve people reported sick after consuming fish and water from Local Wabigoon River. The subsequent tests on sick patients, consumed animals and water showed they have a large amount of mercury contamination. The source of this mercury into the river later identified to be a paper mill near the city of Dryden, where Mill has illegally dumped mercury and other dangerous chemicals into the Wabigoon River in 1970.  As mercury does not decompose easily or within a short time, it has resulted in it being absorbed in river species, which when hunted and consumed by first nation people resulted in mercury-related diseases in locals. Things have begun to change recently, the government of Ontario pledged 85 million dollars towards the cleanup effort for the Wabigoon River, and Ottawa plans to build a care home for those who suffer the effects of mercury poisoning. There are two types of mercury poisoning: methylmercury poisoning, and metallic mercury poisoning. Some of the detrimental symptoms of methylmercury poisoning are less coordination, impairment of speech hearing and moving around, and muscle weakness. Other effects of this type of poisoning are “sharp” feelings (when your body feels like it is in contact with pins and needles), and the damage of peripheral vision (the ability to see to the sides with your eyes). Some of the symptoms of metallic mercury poisoning are tremors, insomnia, mood changes, headaches, twitching, weakness, muscle atrophy (when you lose muscle mass).   Another example of a water crisis on reserve is Neskantaga First Nation as it has been under a boiled water advisory since 1995. The water quality affected due to their inability to fund the treatment plant required to treat water at the source with proper chemicals before supplying it consumption. Until recently, no one addressed the problem to provide funding for the building of the water treatment plant on first nation reserve not provide/equip the community with necessary resources for its ongoing maintenance. The sad truth is that it is number 19 on the priority list for the federal government, which had dropped from number 4 over a few years. Previous governments failed to do anything to improve the water infrastructure on reserve, but recently the Government of Canada promised $8.8 million to upgrade the water treatment facility on reserve. They promised to bring in new treatment technology and to provide storage for clean water. According to the Government of Canada, the advisory will end in 2018, but no certain date is known. For now, the people on reserve can just wait, watch and hope for change to come soon.Now that we are acting on one First Nations water crisis, we can now begin to do the same for other groups around Canada. Unfortunately, that aid is not coming quickly. In fact, according to the Prime Minister of Canada, it will take 5 years to eliminate all water advisories around Canada and at present, he is not on track to reach that goal. In fact, it will take a lot more than just 5 years, due to the poor water infrastructure on site on the reserves. Some of that failed infrastructure include old water treatment plants, little to no healthcare options on reserve, and no leadership to tell the people what to do if something bad happens involving the water. Overall, the First Nations people of Canada need more than just pledges, and late help to survive. They need proper leadership by the governing bodies of Canada, for, as the First Peoples of Canada deserve the same human rights as all of us do in today’s modern society.

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