No Running Water
Solve reserves’ water crisis, don’t squabble, Rae urges2 minute read Saturday, May. 12, 2012
OTTAWA and the province must set aside jurisdictional squabbles and fix the clean-water crisis that plagues remote reserves, federal Liberal Leader Bob Rae said Friday.
"You can't let these things descend into jurisdictional and constitutional battles. Every Canadian should have access to running water," Rae said. "The two governments have to get their act together and get it done."
Along with Manitoba Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard, Rae travelled to St. Theresa Point Friday afternoon to visit homes with no proper plumbing and meet with the chief and council.
St. Theresa Point is one of four reserves around Island Lake, where most of the province's 1,400 homes without modern sanitation are located.
22°C, Partly cloudy
Feds, province agree to bring running water to Island Lake3 minute read Preview Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011
OTTAWA -- The provincial and federal governments agreed Friday to a joint program to give running water to homes in the Island Lake region of Manitoba.
However, there is still no dollar figure attached nor a timeline for completing the project.
Manitoba Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson and federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan met in Ottawa on Friday, mainly to discuss the Island Lake water crisis and hammer out a plan to fix it together.
"It was one of the most productive meetings I have had with the federal government in a long time," said Robinson.
Public shock, anger over issue evaporate5 minute read Preview Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011
WHERE’S the outrage?
It’s been a year since the Winnipeg Free Press first highlighted the damage to health and human dignity caused by the lack of running water in 1,400 First Nations homes. The series of stories spawned hundreds of emails, online comments and letters to the editor, many asking what action average people could take to solve the problem.
But since then, a small handful of advocacy campaigns have largely failed to galvanize public opinion, few charitable organizations have stepped up to tackle the problem and the federal government is under no sustained pressure to provide essential services to First Nations mired in Third World conditions
“All that energy and public attention just dissipated,” said Laurel Gardiner, director of the Manitoba office of the Frontiers Foundation, an aboriginal charitable agency that’s piloting a home retrofit program in Island Lake.
Health effects4 minute read Preview Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011
You know the wintertime flu-prevention mantra: Wash your hands to prevent sickness. But that's not easy when you have no running water and struggle to conserve what little drinking water you haul in daily from the communal tap. Regular flu doesn't sounds so bad, but hundreds of people from St. Theresa Point got sick with H1N1 in that epidemic's first wave in 2009. Federal public health officials conducted a potentially damning epidemiological study into that outbreak, but Health Canada has refused for 18 months to release it, denying an access to information request. The federal information commissioner is investigating.
In addition to the flu, other respiratory ailments exacerbated by poor sanitation can be just as deadly, such as pneumonia or whooping cough. In the spring of 2010, there was an outbreak of whooping cough in northern First Nations, many of which have no running water.
No Running Water7 minute read Preview Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011
"In some First Nations communities in rural and northern Manitoba, inadequate water supplies have increased the risk for communicable disease... Besides the burden of illness on these communities, all Manitobans bear the medical costs and the loss of productivity associated with preventable diseases. Consultation is under way to ensure the provision of a clean, abundant water supply in these communities."
-- 1995 State of the Environment report, Manitoba Conservation
Degrading third-world conditions one more hurdle for disabled man on reserve7 minute read Preview Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011
A tough life without running water, but others have it worse4 minute read Preview Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011
Selinger raises First Nations water woes with premiers4 minute read Preview Friday, Jul. 22, 2011
Ensuring First Nations in Manitoba have access to clean water is a critical part of preparing for future disasters, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said Thursday.
Selinger told the Free Press he raised the issue of the lack of running water available to hundreds of First Nations Manitobans in the Island Lake region at the annual meeting of provincial and territorial premiers in Vancouver. Selinger made his point during talks on developing a pan-Canadian disaster-mitigation plan that is one of the key elements he is pushing for at this week's meetings.
"Clean water is a pretty key prerequisite for avoiding a disaster," said Selinger.
Selinger's pitch comes in the wake of severe flooding in Manitoba this year that forced thousands from their homes. Manitoba wants more done to prevent such disasters from having such a devastating effect rather than waiting for Ottawa to step in with disaster financial assistance after the fact.
Share the wealth, grand chief says4 minute read Preview Monday, Jan. 17, 2011
The people of Island Lake are not asking for handouts to help get running water into their homes, Northern Manitoba Grand Chief David Harper told a public meeting organized Friday night to explore whether the Mennonite Central Committee could help.
"In Manitoba alone, $3 billion is extracted every year from our lands, waters, our natural resources. All we're asking is to share the wealth, to go back to the treaties... We simply are asking the general public, the government, to acknowledge that there is a covenant."
Peter Rempel, executive director of the Mennonite Central Committee that organized the Just Water event, said after the meeting that the concept of a sacred covenant "really resonates with Christians."
"The people who signed the treaties on behalf of the Canadian government, I think, must have signed them out of some sense of understanding that this was also under God."
Aboriginal leaders call for action on running water2 minute read Preview Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010
OTTAWA -- Northern Manitoba aboriginal leaders were in Ottawa this morning demanding the federal government put in place a plan to have clean running water in every northern reserve within two years.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief David Harper said the lack of running water in as many as 1,000 homes “jeopardizes everyone.”
“Whenever there is a crisis in any part of the world Canada jumps,” said Harper.
He estimates it would cost $60 million to retrofit the homes with the plumbing and fixtures necessary to support running water and install water holding tanks.
Manitoba formally seeks help to build permanent road3 minute read Preview Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010
OTTAWA -- The Manitoba government formally asked Ottawa Wednesday for help to expedite construction of an all-weather road into Island Lake.
Manitoba Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson met with federal Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan on Parliament Hill, in part to ask Ottawa to partner on building a permanent road to the four Island Lake communities.
At the same time, Ernie Gilroy, head of the East Side Road Authority, met with bureaucrats from the federal department of infrastructure to discuss the project, which includes roads to other communities east of Lake Winnipeg.
Robinson said he is encouraged by the meetings. "The minister and I have agreed the east-side road has got to be put on the radar screen of the federal government."
Glover to meet Island Lake chiefs4 minute read Preview Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010
The federal government is sending Indian Affairs parliamentary secretary Shelly Glover to meet with Island Lake chiefs this weekend to discuss what can be done to address the lack of basic services in the impoverished Manitoba region.
St. Theresa Point Chief David McDougall confirmed Tuesday the meeting he requested in a Nov. 10 letter was granted.
"We want to discuss the options and what can happen to address some of the immediate concerns," said McDougall, who chairs the Island Lake Tribal Council.
He believes the government is listening after a series of Free Press stories drew attention to the health problems caused by lack of running water in hundreds of the area's homes.