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Thousands of Island Lake residents still haul their drinking water in pails from a community tap and rely on outhouses or latrine buckets that some dump on the ground close to home. What will it take for these Manitobans to secure what the United Nations recognizes as an essential human right to safe water and sanitation?
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The federal government pays for water and sewer services on reserves, but only part of the health-care expenses for anyone who gets sick when those services fail. When First Nations residents get seriously ill, they’re flown out to provincial hospitals where the Manitoba government covers the bills.
"We can't just expect people to be healthy... if they live in a house with 10 other people and have no running water," Manitoba's chief public health officer Dr. Joel Kettner said after the H1N1 flu pandemic swept through Island Lake in spring 2009.
IT’S not easy knocking on the doors of strangers who are feeling ill and asking for samples of their feces, as a University of Manitoba student did in Garden Hill a few years ago.
ST. THERESA POINT -- A doctor first "prescribed" running water for Bernard Flett more than 10 years ago.