July 14, 2011
(Moncton, NB) – Following today’s release of the National Assessment of First Nation Water and Water Systems report, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo repeated his call for federal government to work urgently with First Nations on a concrete action plan that will deliver safe drinking water and improved waste water systems to First Nation citizens.
“The report released today is shocking in that it reveals the quality of drinking water in First Nation communities is even worse than anticipated,” said the National Chief. “More than half the water systems our people are using are risky systems. While First Nations have been calling attention to this matter for years, today’s report should spark swift and urgent action to ensure the health and safety of our people. Other Canadians would not tolerate this situation in their communities and we must not tolerate it in First Nation communities.”
The study was announced in 2009 but the report was only released today. The figures show that the number of high and moderate risk drinking water systems are higher than previously reported by Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada. The recent Auditor General’s report stated that the safe drinking water problem has actually become worse in First Nation communities over her ten year term. She called for Canada to work with First Nations to address this in a timely manner.
The report indicates that 39% of the drinking water systems in First Nation communities are considered “high risk” and 34% are “moderate risk”, which means 71% of the systems pose risk to First Nation citizens.
The National Chief stated: “We want to work with the federal government in partnership, based on standards brought forward in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to ensure that we address this as a priority issue. We have made healthy and safer communities one of our top priorities. We will need to move in a timely manner. Access to water and sanitation is a basic human right. First Nations must be fully engaged in a way that recognizes our rights and responsibilities to ensure the safety of our people.”
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.
Don Kelly, A/Director of Communications, Assembly of First Nations
613-292-2787 or [email protected]
Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer
613-292-0857 or [email protected]
Jenna Young, AFN Communications Officer
613-314-8157 or [email protected]