Transcript: A Water Emergency in Attawapiskat | Jul 24, 2019

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a blue blazer over a black blouse.

A caption on screen reads "A water emergency in Attawapiskat. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says WHEN IT COMES TO
INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES, WATER
QUALITY ADVISORIES ARE NOTHING
NEW.
EARLIER THIS MONTH, ATTAWAPISKAT
FIRST NATION BECAME THE LATEST
PLACE TO DECLARE A STATE OF
EMERGENCY OVER WATER. THE CRISIS
HIGHLIGHTS THE LONG, ROCKY ROAD
STILL AHEAD FOR RECONCILIATION.
JOINING US NOW FOR MORE: IN
FREDERICTON, NEW BRUNSWICK: MARC
MILLER, PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY
TO THE MINISTER OF
CROWN-INDIGENOUS RELATIONS; AND
THE LIBERAL MEMBER FOR
VILLE-MARIE, LE SUD-OUEST,
ILE-DES-SOEURS...

Marc is in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short curly blond hair. He's wearing a gray suit and a blue shirt.

Nam continues IN THUNDER BAY,
ONTARIO: WILLOW FIDDLER, VIDEO
JOURNALIST WITH ABORIGINAL
PEOPLES TELEVISION NETWORK...

Willow is in her forties, with long straight brown hair. She's wearing a sleeveless tan blouse.

Nam continues AND WITH US IN STUDIO: DAWN
MARTIN-HILL, CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGIST...

Dawn is in her fifties, with long curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a black blazer, a printed blouse, and a beaded necklace.

Nam continues AND PAUL R. MCPHERSON CHAIR AT MCMASTER UNIVERSITY.
HELLO TO YOU ALL.
THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING HERE TO
HELP US UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING
ON IN ATTAWAPISKAT AND JUST TO
GIVE AN IDEA OF WHERE IT'S
LOCATED, WE HAVE A MAP TO SHOW
WHERE IT IS IN ONTARIO.

A satellite view of Canada appears on screen and homes in on Thunder Bay, then on Attawapiskat.

Nam continues IT IS A SMALL FIRST NATION
COMMUNITY OF 2,000 PEOPLE IN THE
FAR NORTH REGION OF ONTARIO ON
THE JAMES BAY COAST.
IT'S CONNECTED TO MOOSONEE VIA
AN ICE ROAD IN THE WINTER BUT IS
A FLY-IN COMMUNITY WHEN THE ICE
MELTS. WILLOW, I WOULD LIKE TO
START WITH YOU.
THE STATE OF EMERGENCY BEGAN
EARLIER THIS MONTH.
WHAT CAUSED IT?

The caption changes to "Willow Fiddler. Aboriginal Peoples Television Network."
Then, it changes again to "Wells of worries."

Willow says LIKE YOU
SAID EARLIER THIS MONTH WE
LEARNED THAT ATTAWAPISKAT
DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY.
AFTER TEST RESULTS FROM THEIR
WATER SYSTEMS SHOWED HIGH LEVELS
OF A CHEMICAL... TWO CHEMICALS
CALLED THMS OR HAAS.
THM STANDS FOR TRIHALOMETHANES
AND HAA STANDS FOR HALOACETIC
ACIDS.
THESE ARE TWO CHEMICALS COMMONLY
FOUND IN WATER SYSTEMS THAT USE
CHLORINE TO TREAT IT AND
APPARENTLY WHEN IT MIXES WITH
ORGANIC MATTER IN THE WATER
SYSTEM THESE CHEMICALS ARE
PRODUCED.
IT USUALLY IS NOT A CONCERN, BUT
WHAT IS CONCERNING IS THE LEVELS
OF THESE CHEMICALS PRESENT AND
THE WORRY THAT PROLONGED
EXPOSURE TO THMS AND HAAS CAN BE
HARMFUL TO PEOPLE THAT ARE USING
IT AND EXPOSED TO IT ON A
REGULAR BASIS.

Nam says AND IN THE INTERIM,
WHILE THE GOVERNMENT IS TRYING
TO FIGURE OUT A WAY TO MOVE
FORWARD, WHAT HAVE PEOPLE IN
ATTAWAPISKAT BEEN ADVISED TO DO
WHEN IT COMES TO WATER?

The caption changes to "Willow Fiddler, @WillowBlasizzo."

Willow says THEY WERE
ADVISED THAT THEY HAD TO LIMIT
THEIR SHOWERS.
THE TAP WATER THEY DON'T USE FOR
DRINKING WATER.
THE COMMUNITY DOES HAVE REVERSE
OSMOSIS UNITS THAT THEY USE FOR
DRINKING WATER.
RESIDENTS TAKE JUGS AND FILL IT
UP.
THEY DO USE THE TAP WATER FOR
SHOWERING, BATHING, WASHING
THEIR VEGETABLES, COOKING.
IT IS A CONCERN.
THEY WERE WARNED TO LIMIT THEIR
USE TO THAT UNTIL THEY WERE ABLE
TO GET A HANDLE ON WHAT'S
HAPPENING AND WHAT THE RISKS
ARE.

Nam says I KNOW IF THAT WAS TO
HAPPEN IN, SAY, TORONTO, THE
GTA, IT WOULD BE FRONT-PAGE
NEWS.
MARKINGS, THE MINISTER OF
DISINGENUOUS SERVICES, SEAMUS
O'REGAN, VISITED THE RESERVE AND
COMMITTED 1.5 MILLION DOLLARS TO
REPAIRING THE CURRENT WATER
SYSTEM AND HE SAID IS COMMITTED
TO BUILDING A NEW WATER
TREATMENT IN THE LONG TERM.
WILL THAT SOLVE THE PROBLEM?

The caption changes to "Marc Miller. Liberal MPP, Ville-Marie-Le Sud-Ouest-Ile-Des-Soeurs."

Marc says THANKS FOR THE
QUESTION, NAM.
THIS IS A QUESTION THAT TOUCHES
FIRST AND FOREMOST FIRST NATION
COMMUNITIES SOME REMOTE LIKE
ATTAWAPISKAT IS NOT THE ONLY
ONE.
THE SOLUTION THAT THE MINISTER
ANNOUNCED HAPPENS IN TWO TIMES,
FIRST THE SHORT-TERM INTERIM
MEASURES, WHICH INCLUDED
DISPATCHING TECHNICAL SERVICES
FROM DISINGENUOUS SERVICES
CANADA TO WORK ON THE CURRENT
SYSTEM TO FIX THE REVERSE
OSMOSIS SYSTEM IN PLACE,
PROVIDING INTERIM DRINKABLE
WATER.
IT ALSO DEPLOYING MEDICAL TEAMS.
THAT IS WHAT WAS COMMITTED TO BY
THE MINISTER AS A SHORT-TERM
MEASURE IN ADDITION TO WHAT YOU
MENTIONED, FIXING THE
PURIFICATION SYSTEM AND THE
INVESTMENT OF 1.5 MILLION DOLLARS.
AND IN THE LONG TERM WORKING
WITH THE COMMUNITY TO GET TO A
SOLUTION THAT WOULD INVOLVE THE
BUILDING OF A NEW PLANT, A NEW
SOURCE.
NEXT TO THAT IS THE ADDITION TO
RESERVE ELEMENT OF ACQUIRING THE
LAND NECESSARY IN ORDER TO GET
THAT SOURCE THAT WON'T POSE THE
SAME LEVEL OF RISK.
SO THESE ARE ISSUES, AND AS YOU
MENTIONED IF THIS OCCURRED IN
DOWNTOWN TORONTO, IT WOULD BE
FRONT-PAGE NEWS.
IN FACT, THANKS TO SOCIAL MEDIA,
THIS AWARENESS IS MUCH MORE AT
THE FOREFRONT OF PEOPLE'S MINDS.
INDIGENOUS AND NON-INDIGENOUS
CANADIANS AND... AND IT IS
SOMETHING CANADIANS NEED TO
REALIZE, THERE ARE COMMUNITIES
IN CANADA THAT DON'T HAVE
DRINKABLE WATER AND THIS IS A
HUMAN RIGHT.
THIS GOVERNMENT COMMITTED TO AND
MADE VERY LOFTY PROMISES IN
ELIMINATING, COMMITTING TO
ELIMINATE LONG-TERM WATER
ADVISORIES.
SUCCESS HAS BEEN GOOD BUT
PARTIAL.
I WOULD NOTE THE FACT THAT WE
HAVE LISTED OVER 85, 86
LONG-TERM WATER ADVISORIES,
PREVENTED SHORT-TERM ADVISORIES
FROM BEING PUT IN PLACE, BUT
THERE ARE OVER 50 LEFT, AND SOME
WITH VERY, VERY ACUTE
SITUATIONS, SOME WHERE THE
SOLUTIONS ARE NOT EASY AND
INVOLVE ADDITIONAL MASSIVE
INVESTMENTS IN INFRASTRUCTURE.
THIS GOVERNMENT... WE'RE WORKING
TOWARDS FIXING THAT PROBLEM BY
2021.

Nam says I'M GLAD YOU BROUGHT UP
THE WATER ADVISORY.
WE HAVE A GRAPH TO SHOW THIS IS
A PROBLEM THAT AFFECTS MANY
COMMUNITIES.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Long-term drinking water advisories on Ontario reserves."

A line chart shows that the number of advisories was 105 in 2016 and is expected to descend to 57 in 2020

Nam reads data from the slate and says
ACCORDING TO INDIGENOUS SERVICES
CANADA FOUR YEARS AGO THERE WERE
MANY ADVISORIES AND NOW THIS
NUMBER IS DOWN TO 57.
THE GOVERNMENT IS WORKING AND
THEY'RE DOING WHAT THEY CAN, BUT
YESTERDAY ACCORDING TO THE CBC
RESIDENTS IN ATTAWAPISKAT
MARCHED, THEY HAD SIGNS THAT
SAID "OUR KIDS MATTER," "WATER
IS LIFE," "OUR PEOPLE ARE DYING
SLOWLY." THERE ARE TWO MEMBERS
OF THE COMMUNITY, THERESA SPENCE
AND SYLVIA KOOSTACHIN-METATAWBIN
AND THEY HAVE BEEN ON A HUNGER
STRIKE FOR TEN DAYS. IT'S ONE
THING TO SAY THAT THE GOVERNMENT
IS DOING WHAT THEY'RE DOING NOW
BUT THIS COMMUNITY IS
EXPERIENCING THINGS MORE THAN WE
ARE. IF YOU WERE TO TELL PEOPLE
IN TORONTO DON'T SHOWER OR USE
HOT WATER, I DON'T THINK THAT
WOULD EVEN HAPPEN.
DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING ENOUGH?

Marc says I WON'T
SUBSTITUTE MY POINT OF VIEW FOR
WHAT PEOPLE IN THOSE COMMUNITIES
ARE LIVING AND GOING THROUGH.
WHEN AN 8-YEAR-OLD GIRL CAN
SPEAK AS ELOQUENTLY AS SHE DID
TO SOMEONE THAT IS PERHAPS SEEN
AS INTIMIDATING, LIKE A MINISTER
OF THE CROWN, I THINK IT SPEAKS
VOLUMES AND SPEAKS FOR ITSELF AS
TO SOME OF THE CONDITIONS THAT
ARE THIRD-WORLD LIKE IN COMMUNITIES.
AND THE WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE
DONE TO MOVE THIS FORWARD.
THIS GOVERNMENT HAS PUT 21-PLUS
BILLION DOLLARS INTO INDIGENOUS
MATTERS, WHICH INCLUDES THE BOIL
WATER ADVISORIES.
I DON'T THINK ENOUGH WILL BE
DONE UNTIL THESE... UNTIL THESE
ADVISORIES ARE COMPLETELY GONE
AND THOSE GAPS THAT EXIST
BETWEEN INDIGENOUS AND
NON-INDIGENOUS PEOPLES ARE
CLOSED.

Nam says DAWN, I WANT TO BRING
YOU INTO THE CONVERSATION.
INDIGENOUS SERVICES CANADA SAID
THEY WOULD REIMBURSE THE COUNCIL
GOVERNING ATTAWAPISKAT FOR 1.5
LITRES FOR ADULTS AND 1 LITRE A
DAY FOR INFANTS AS FAR AS WATER
GOES WHILE THE WATER SYSTEMS ARE
BEING REPAIRED.
IS THAT ENOUGH?

The caption changes to "Dawn Martin-Hill. McMaster University."

Dawn says I CAN'T
SPEAK TO IT BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW
WHAT THE COSTS ARE THERE.
I KNOW IN THE NORTH EVERYTHING
IS USUALLY EXPONENTIALLY MORE
EXPENSIVE, BUT NO, IT'S NOT
ENOUGH.
THERE NEEDS TO BE REAL ATTENTION
TO REAL PRICES.
THEY'RE IN CRISIS AS HE
MENTIONED.
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF
COMMUNITIES IN CRISIS FROM
GRASSY NARROWS TO FIRST NATION
WHICH IS JUST 45 MINUTES FROM
TORONTO.
SO THIS IS AN ENDEMIC PROBLEM
THAT CAME OUT OF A COLONIAL
POLICY STARTED BY DUNCAN
CAMPBELL SCOTT BUT PROBABLY
EARLIER STATING YOU'RE GOING TO
CONTINUE UNTIL THERE'S NOT A
SINGLE INDIAN LEFT IN THE BODY
POLITIC.
THAT WAS 1924, A CENTURY AGO,
AND WHAT THAT DID IS NOT ALLOW
FOR FIRST NATIONS INDIGENOUS
PEOPLE TO HAVE INFRASTRUCTURE.
SO THROUGH OUR STUDIES IN GLOBAL
WATER FUTURES RESEARCH, I HAD NO
IDEA AS A RESIDENT OF SIX
NATIONS ONCE WE STARTED THE
STUDY HOW COSTLY DAY-TO-DAY
LIVING IS FOR INDIGENOUS
FAMILIES AT SIX NATIONS WHO HAVE
TO PURCHASE THEIR WATER ON A
DAILY BASIS.
IT'S HAPPENING ACROSS THE
BOARD...

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Nam says BECAUSE IN YOUR
COMMUNITY, IS IT LIKE LESS THAN
10 percent OF PEOPLE HAVE WATER THAT'S
ACTUALLY COMING INTO THEIR HOME?

Dawn says YES, SO
WHEN... I MEAN, WE'RE ALL
THRILLED WITH TRUDEAU'S POLICY
TO CORRECT THIS PROBLEM AND I
THINK EVERYBODY WAS EXCITED.
I WAS THRILLED TO BE ON A
RESEARCH TEAM THAT WAS GOING TO
WORK WITH ENGINEERS AND
BIOLOGIST AND CLINICAL
PSYCHOLOGISTS TO TAKE A HOLISTIC
LOOK AT THE IMPACT AND I WAS
STUNNED TO FIND OUT THAT ONLY
10 percent OF THE RESIDENTS HAD ACCESS
TO THIS BEAUTIFUL TREATMENT
PLANT BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO PAY
FOR THE INFRASTRUCTURE AND
PEOPLE... IT'S COMPLEX.
YOU HAVE TO DO INFRASTRUCTURE
WHICH IS REALLY EXPENSIVE.
AND THEN THE OTHER PROBLEM IS
THERE'S NO WASTE TREATMENT
PLANT.
SO IT'S ALWAYS THESE PIECEMEAL
APPROACHES, WHETHER IT'S OUR
HEALTH, WHETHER IT'S SUICIDE,
WHATEVER IT IS, THAT DOESN'T GET
TO THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM,
WHICH IS WE NEED TO BE BROUGHT
UP TO THIS CENTURY AND LIVE LIKE
OTHER CANADIANS LIVE BECAUSE ARE
YOU GOING TO TAKE WATER AND
MAYBE THEY'LL GET CLEAN WATER,
BUT THE HOUSING IS REALLY... AS
HE MENTIONED, IT'S THIRD-WORLD
CONDITIONS.
SO WHEN YOU LOOK AT HEALTH...
I'M A HEALTH RESEARCHER... HOW
DO I MEASURE THE DISPARITIES
BETWEEN OUR HEALTH AND
CANADIANS' HEALTH WHICH IS
GROWING AND NOT CLOSING BECAUSE
WE'RE LIVING IN THESE HORRIBLE
CONDITIONS WHICH HAS AN OVERALL
IMPACT OF MENTAL HEALTH,
SUICIDE...

Nam says SO YOU'RE SAYING
EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED?

Dawn says EVERYTHING
IS CONNECTED, AND IT'S NOT A
ONE-OFF.
WHAT WE NEED... WHAT WE COULD DO
IN MY VIEW AND IT'S ONLY... NOT
A RESEARCH STATEMENT, BUT IT
WOULD SEEM TO ME THAT YOU WOULD
WANT TO UTILIZE ALL THE
RESOURCES YOU HAVE TO REBUILD
PROPER COMMUNITIES BECAUSE WE
WERE NEGLECTED, WE WERE EXPECTED
TO DIE OUT, THEY TOOK OUR
CHILDREN.
IF WE BROUGHT ALL OF THIS
FORWARD AND SAID THERE IS A
COMMUNITY IN JAMES BAY NOW THAT
HAS DESIGNED ITSELF SUSTAINABLE
ENERGY, WAYS TO IMPROVE THE
HOUSING, AND ALL THOSE OTHER
THINGS WILL IMPROVE, BUT UNTIL
YOU GET TO THE ROOT PROBLEM
WHICH IS WE'RE FORCED TO LIVE IN
REALLY TERRIBLE CONDITIONS THAT
CANADIANS, A, DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT;
AND B, HAVE NO IDEA THAT THE
TAXING THAT WOULD TAKE ON A
CHILD'S MIND AND THEN THEY
QUESTION WHY IS SUICIDE SO HIGH.
WELL, YOU DON'T NEED TO BE A
CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST TO REALLY
LOOK AT THE OVERALL IMPACT THAT
THESE DAILY GRINDS OF JUST
GETTING READY TO GO TO SCHOOL.

Nam says MARC, I WOULD LIKE TO
GET YOU TO RESPOND SINCE YOU'RE
HERE REPRESENTING THE
GOVERNMENT.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY TO WHAT
DAWN JUST SAID?

The caption changes to "Marc Miller, @MarcMillerVM."

Marc says I WOULD LIKE TO
ELABORATE A LITTLE BIT ON WHAT
DAWN SAID.
SHE LIVES IN A COMMUNITY THAT IS
CLOSE TO BRANFORD, SO IN
PEOPLE'S IMAGINATION, THEY SAY
TO THEMSELVES... AND I GUESS
PERHAPS IN SOME SENSE IT'S
COMFORTING, THEY SAY IT'S FAR
NORTH AND PROBLEMATIC.
SIX NATIONS IS THE LARGEST
POPULATED FIRST NATION IN THE
COUNTRY.
IT'S RIGHT BESIDE BRANFORD AND
PEOPLE OF BRANFORD HAVE CLEAN
WATER, BUT THE LEVELS DAWN
DESCRIBED OF PEOPLE HOOKED UP OR
ACCESS TO THE CLEAN WATER...
BECAUSE THERE ARE TWO
DISTINCTIONS THAT NEED TO BE
DRAWN, THERE'S THE ACTUAL
HOOKUPS TO HOUSES AND THE ACTUAL
ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER AND THERE
ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.
ONE MAY INVOLVE A TRUCK DRIVE,
WHEREAS THE OTHER INVOLVES THE
TURNING OF A FAUCET.
WE RECENTLY INVESTED ALONG WITH
THE COUNCIL INTO GETTING ACCESS
INTO TWO OF THE SCHOOLS.
BUT THERE ARE OTHER SCHOOLS LIKE
THE EVERLASTING TREE SCHOOL THAT
I VISITED THAT DON'T HAVE
THAT LEVEL OF HOOKUP.
SO IT'S UNIMAGINABLE FOR
CANADIANS TO THINK THAT THIS
SCHOOL THAT THEIR CHILD GOES TO
DOESN'T HAVE CLEAN DRINKING
WATER.
THANKS TO INVESTMENTS SOME
SCHOOLS WILL HAVE CLEAN DRINKING
WATER, BUT THAT ISN'T THE CASE
FOR ALL FIRST NATIONS AND THAT
ISN'T THE CASE FOR ALL HOUSES.
THERE'S NO EXCUSE BECAUSE OF THE
PROXIMITY.
YOU CAN'T SAY IT'S FAR OR
COMPLICATED.
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A MASSIVE
UNDERCAPITALIZATION THAT HAS
HAPPENED OVER DECADES.
WHEN WE'RE LOOKING AS AN
INDICATOR OF THE LONG-TERM BOIL
WATER ADVISORY.

The caption changes to "Living with empty taps."

Nam says NOT TO INTERRUPT YOU,
BUT WHAT WOULD IT TAKE TO MAKE
SURE EVERYONE HAD SAFE DRINKING
WATER IN THIS PROVINCE?

Marc says HARD WORK,
MONEY, A LEVEL OF ENGAGEMENT
PERHAPS MORE THAN THIS
GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO.

Nam says DO YOU THINK YOU'RE
MOVING FAST ENOUGH, THOUGH?

Marc says IT'S HARD TO
ARGUE THAT WE CAN'T MOVE ANY
FASTER, PARTICULARLY WHEN PEOPLE
ARE DRINKING UNSAFE WATER, BUT
THE ISSUES ARE COMPLICATED.
THEY VARY FROM DIFFERENT
COMMUNITY TO DIFFERENT
COMMUNITY.
THERE ARE ISSUES WITH ONE THE
NATURE AND THE SOURCE OF THE
WATER, THE PLANT AND PERHAPS THE
HOOKUPS THAT NEED TO BE DONE,
THE TRAINING.
WORKING... PEOPLE DON'T
UNDERSTAND THAT WORKING IN A
WATER PLANT REQUIRES A LEVEL OF
EDUCATION AND VERY
SOPHISTICATED.
IF YOU VISITED WATER PLANTS, YOU
HAVE PEOPLE DOING COMPLEX
CHEMICAL CALCULATIONS, COMPLEX
MATH OBVIOUSLY, AS WELL AS THE
SPECIFIC WATER-RELATED TRAINING
THAT'S REQUIRED TO WORK IN THOSE
PLANTS.

Nam says BUT YOU HAVE PEOPLE
HERE FOR CITIES LIKE TORONTO, DON'T YOU?

Marc says YES, ABSOLUTELY.
SO WHY WE SAY THAT THIS IS
COMPLEX, THAT PLAYS INTO THE
TIME FACTOR.
THAT DOESN'T PLAY INTO THE LEVEL
OF DEDICATION AND COMMITMENT
THAT YOU NEED FROM GOVERNMENTS,
NOT ONLY FEDERAL, BUT WHEN
YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT HOOKUPS AND
INFRASTRUCTURE, IT IS SIMILAR TO
MUNICIPAL-TYPE INFRASTRUCTURE,
ENGAGEMENT FROM THE PROVINCIAL
GOVERNMENT.

Nam says WILLOW, I HAVEN'T HEARD
FROM YOU FOR A LITTLE BIT.
HOW DOES THIS STATE OF EMERGENCY
AFFECT THE MENTAL HEALTH OF RESIDENTS?

The caption changes to "Mental health and H2O."

Willow says SO, I MEAN
ATTAWAPISKAT, LIKE MARC SAID, IS
NOT THE ONLY COMMUNITY OR FIRST
NATION TO BE FACING THESE
CHALLENGES, PARTICULARLY HERE IN
NORTHERN ONTARIO.
THERE'S ABOUT 20 COMMUNITIES
THAT ARE UNDER BOIL WATER
ADVISORY, BOTH SHORT TERM AND
LONG TERM.
EABAMETOONG FIRST NATION ALSO
THIS MONTH DECLARED A STATE OF
EMERGENCY BECAUSE OF HIGH THM
LEVELS AS WELL.
THEY'VE BEEN UNDER A BOIL WATER
ADVISORY FOR 18 YEARS AS OF
AUGUST 1ST. NESKANTAGA FIRST
NATION IS ALSO FACING SIMILAR
CHALLENGES AND THEY'VE BEEN
UNDER A BOIL WATER ADVISORY
FOR 25 YEARS. I WAS THERE JUST
RECENTLY IN NESKANTAGA AND
TOURED THE WATER TREATMENT
PLANT. IT'S ALMOST COMPLETED.
THEY RAN INTO PROBLEMS LAST
WINTER.
THEY ALSO HAD TO DECLARE A STATE
OF EMERGENCY BECAUSE THE
CONTRACTORS THEY HIRED WERE
TAKING TOO LONG.
THEY'RE MONTHS BEHIND SCHEDULE.
THEY'RE GOING TO BE COMPLETED
SOON.
THE WORRY FROM THE CHIEF IS NO
ONE IS GOING TO TRUST THE WATER
COMING OUT OF THE TAPS EVEN WHEN
IT IS SAFE AND CLEAN BECAUSE
THERE IS A GENERATION NOW THAT
HAVE GROWN UP UNDER THIS BOIL
WATER ADVISORY, SO THEY DON'T
KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO HAVE
ACCESS TO THAT SAFE TAP WATER TO
GO TO THE SINK, TO GRAB A GLASS
AND GET A DRINK OF WATER FROM
THE TAP AND DRINK IT.
AND THIS DOESN'T... IT'S NOT
ONLY IN THE COMMUNITY, BUT
COMMUNITY MEMBERS WHEN THEY
LEAVE AND GO SOMEWHERE ELSE, FOR
EXAMPLE, THUNDER BAY OR TORONTO,
THEY STILL WILL NOT USE THE TAP
WATER BECAUSE THAT TRUST IS JUST
NOT THERE AT ALL.
SO THE MENTAL HEALTH IMPACTS ARE
QUITE SIGNIFICANT.

Dawn says YEAH, I'D
LIKE TO RESPOND TO THE
DISCUSSION ALL AROUND.
LIKE, SIX NATIONS HAS THE
HIGHEST POST-SECONDARY POPULATION.
I MEAN, OUR PEOPLE ARE GOING TO
UNIVERSITIES, THEY'RE GOING TO
MOHAWK COLLEGE, MCMASTER, FIVE
OTHER UNIVERSITIES.
THEY'RE VERY LUCKY BECAUSE IN
SOME WAYS... AT THE SAME TIME,
DOING THIS RESEARCH PROJECT,
PARTNERING WITH MOHAWK COLLEGE
SO THAT WE CAN GET OUR PEOPLE
TRAINED TO RUN TREATMENT
CENTRES, IT'S LIKE YOU'RE DOING
IT BY YOURSELF AND YOU'RE JUST
WONDERING... YOU FEEL LIKE I'M
DOING THE GOVERNMENT'S JOB AND I
SHOULDN'T BE DOING THIS, BUT WE
NEED PEOPLE TRAINED TO RUN THESE
TREATMENT PLANTS.
NOT ONLY THAT, THEY GAVE SIX
NATIONS THE MONEY FOR THE
TREATMENT PLANT.
THEY DIDN'T GIVE MONEY TO
OPERATE THE TREATMENT PLANT.
SO AGAIN, YOU GET... YOU MAKE
ONE MOVE, BUT IT'S THREE STEPS
BACK.
A, WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH PEOPLE
TRAINED, EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE THE
WILL TO CREATE A PROGRAM TO WORK
TOWARDS HELPING OTHER PEOPLE
FROM NORTHERN ONTARIO, TAKE
PROGRAMS THAT ARE RELEVANT TO
FIRST NATIONS WATER MONITORING
AND TREATMENT.
BUT YOU JUST DON'T HAVE THE
WILL.
IT SEEMS LIKE THE GOVERNMENT
TALKS TO THE AFN AND ALL THE
PEOPLE ON THE GROUND WHO ARE
EXPERTS AND WHO ARE DOING ALL
THIS RESEARCH HAVE NO INROAD TO
THOSE CONVERSATIONS.
THAT'S ONE AREA THAT I WOULD
LIKE TO... ALSO, WE PAY FOR OUR
WATER.
AS A RESIDENT OF SIX NATIONS,
I'VE PAID FOR MY WATER AND I
CONTINUE TO DO SO, BUT I ALSO
HAVE TO PAY FOR THE WASTE.
WHEN YOU ADD THAT UP WHICH IS
WHAT OUR SURVEY IS GOING TO BE
DOING, YOU'RE LOOKING AT 400 TO
600 A MONTH IF YOU HAVE KIDS.
THAT'S A MORTGAGE PAYMENT.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Nam says YOU GO SOMEWHERE TO GET THE WATER?

Dawn says YOU HAVE
TO PAY PUBLIC WORKS TO COME AND
GET THE WASTE.
THAT'S 80.
IF YOU HAVE COMPANY IT'S 180.
YOU COULD DO THAT ON A WEEKLY
BASIS WHEN MY DAUGHTER AND HER
FAMILY WERE LIVING WITH US FOR A
WHILE.
WE HAVE TO BUILD OUR OWN HOUSES.
MY DAUGHTER IS BUILDING HER OWN
HOUSE.
50,000 OFF THE TOP GOES TO
WATER AND SEPTIC AND ALL THESE
INFRASTRUCTURES THAT CANADIANS
GET TO JUST PLUG INTO, AND THEN
I PAY INTEREST ON THAT MONEY.
SO PEOPLE... CANADIANS NEED TO
UNDERSTAND, WE'RE WORKING REALLY
HARD AND WE'RE... I PAY TAXES.
MOST OF US WORK OFF RESERVE, AND
YET I DON'T RECEIVE THE
SERVICES.
MY KIDS GO TO A SCHOOL THAT'S IN
A LACROSSE ARENA IN ORDER TO
LEARN MOHAWK.
SO THERE'S A VERY UNFAIR
PERCEPTION OUT THERE THAT WE'RE
NOT TRYING TO HELP OURSELVES,
AND WE ARE.
IT'S JUST THERE'S A REAL
DISCONNECT IN TERMS OF THE
EXPERTISE THAT COULD BE TAPPED
INTO VERSUS A VERY POLITICAL
NEGOTIATION WITHOUT A WHOLE LOT
OF STRATEGIC PLANNING TO ADDRESS
THE ISSUE IN THE LONG TERM.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Nam says MARC, DAWN MENTIONED
THAT THERE'S A LACK OF WILL FOR
THE GOVERNMENT TO RESOLVE THIS.
DO YOU AGREE TO THAT?

Marc says I DON'T THINK
WILL IS LACKING.
I WANT TO SPEAK SPECIFICALLY ON
THE SCHOOL BECAUSE I WENT TO A
BOARD MEETING FOR THAT SCHOOL
AND I HEARD ABOUT THE NEED TO
BUILD A NEW SCHOOL, THE
SITUATION OF THAT SCHOOL SITTING
ABOVE AN ARENA, EVEN THOUGH
THEY'VE PERSISTED IN... JUST
THROUGH THE SHEER WILL OF
EDUCATORS TO HAVE KIDS LEARNING
THEIR LANGUAGE, IT ISN'T
ACCEPTABLE THAT IT'S SIMPLY
ABOVE A LACROSSE ARENA.
SO THE GOVERNMENT HAS COMMITTED
TO DOING PRELIMINARY STUDIES FOR
A NEW SCHOOL.
THAT'S ALL AT ITS INFANCY.
I WANTED TO CLARIFY THAT AT THE
OUTSET.
THIS ISN'T A LACK OF WILL.
IF ANYTHING, WE'VE BEEN
CRITICIZED FOR OUR WILL.
WE'VE BEEN TOLD TO SLOW DOWN,
AGAIN PEOPLE POINTING OUT YOU
CAN'T HAVE THE SAME OLD FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT MARCHING IN TELLING
FIRST NATIONS, INUIT, AND METIS
FOR THAT MATTER WHAT THEY SHOULD
OR SHOULDN'T BE DOING.
THAT INVOLVES PARTNERSHIP AND A
LOT OF DIALOGUE, IT INVOLVES
SOME VERY PAINFUL DISCUSSIONS.
THE REAL CHALLENGE IS HAVING
THAT LEVEL OF ENGAGEMENT,
COMMITMENT, PRIORITIES,
UNDERSTANDING THAT COMMUNITIES
DON'T WORK IN THE SAME WAY AS
BUREAUCRATS WORK WHICH IS TO PUT
THINGS INTO ENVELOPES AND
CATEGORIZE THINGS, IT'S A
WHOLE-OF-GOVERNMENT AND
WHOLE-OF-COMMUNITY APPROACH.
AND WE'VE HAD STRUGGLES, AND I'M
READY TO ADMIT IT, RECONCILING
THAT AND UNDERSTANDING THAT
THINGS ARE CONNECTED AND THEY
NEED TO BE RESOLVED, ONE, IN A
WHOLE OF GOVERNMENT APPROACH,
AND TWO, IN A WHOLE OF COMMUNITY
APPROACH.
IT ISN'T A LACK OF WILL OR
INVESTMENTS, AND I BELIEVE THIS
IS AN INCONTROVERTIBLE FACT.
WE'VE INVESTED MORE THAN ANY
GOVERNMENT, 24 BILLION DOLLARS.
AND I DON'T THINK THERE'S ANY
GOVERNMENT THAT HAS DONE SO.

Nam says JUST TO PICK UP ON WHAT
YOU SAID OF EVERYTHING BEING
DONE.
IT'S A SENSE OF URGENCY IN THE
COMMUNITIES BEING AFFECTED.
YOU TALKED ABOUT WHAT THE
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN
DOING.
DO YOU SEE A ROLE FOR THE
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT TO GET
INVOLVED IN THIS?

Marc says ABSOLUTELY.
THE HONOUR OF THE CROWN, THE
FIDUCIARY DUTY, EXISTS AT THE
PROVINCIAL CROWN AS WELL AS THE
FEDERAL CROWN.
WE HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY UNDER
THE CONSTITUTION, WHETHER IT'S
SECTION 91 OR SECTION 35 OF THE
CHARTER.
SO CLEARLY THERE IS A
PARTNERSHIP.
ONE OF THE FRUSTRATIONS WE ALSO
HEAR AND WE WILL SEE THIS AND WE
HAVE EXPERIENCED THIS THROUGH
THE CHILD AND FAMILY LEGISLATION
IS AN ISSUE OF JURISDICTION AND
WHO ASSERTS WHAT.
WHILE THERE ARE STILL FIRST
NATIONS CHILDREN, INDIGENOUS
CHILDREN, IN CARE MORE THAN
THERE WERE STUDENTS AT THE
HEIGHT OF THE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL
SYSTEM.
THIS IS SOMETHING THAT IS
UNACCEPTABLE FOR INDIGENOUS
PEOPLE, FIRST AND FOREMOST, BUT
UNACCEPTABLE FOR ALL CANADIANS.
IT IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR A
COMMUNITY TO BE TOLD, WE DON'T
DO THIS BECAUSE THAT'S A
PROVINCIAL JURISDICTION.
SO MY JOB IS TO PICK UP THE
PHONE, WORK WITH OUR PARTNERS AT
THE PROVINCIAL LEVEL, AND
RESOLVE THOSE ISSUES.
UNFORTUNATELY, SOMETIMES THE
PARTNER ISN'T THERE, AND THAT'S
VERY UNFORTUNATE, BUT WE GET
INTO DISCUSSIONS AS TO WHO FILLS
THE GAP, AND THAT'S WHY WE
ACTUALLY HAVE SOMETHING CALLED
THE JORDAN'S PRINCIPLE.

The caption changes to "All about the politics."

Nam says WILLOW, WE ONLY HAVE A
FEW MINUTES LEFT.
I WANTED TO ASK YOU THIS
QUESTION.
IN THE LEAD-UP TO THE 2015
ELECTION, JUSTIN TRUDEAU SAID A
GOVERNMENT LED BY HIM WOULD
ADDRESS THE DRINKING WATER
ISSUES AS A TOP PRIORITY.
WHAT GRADE WOULD YOU GIVE HIS GOVERNMENT?

Willow says WELL, I'M
NOT SURE WHAT KIND OF GRADE I'M
GOING TO GIVE THAT, BUT I SPOKE
WITH CHIEF IGNACE GULL OF
ATTAWAPISKAT YESTERDAY, AND HIM
I THINK LIKE MANY OTHER FIRST
NATION LEADERS IN THE COUNTRY
REALLY TOOK TO HEART THE PRIME
MINISTER'S COMMITMENTS OR
PROMISES
PROMISES WHEN HE WAS ELECTED AND
THE CHIEF OF ATTAWAPISKAT SAID
THAT HE PROMISED TO END-ALL BOIL
WATER ADVISORIES AND HE SAID
IT'S NOT HAPPENED, THE WORK THAT
HAS BEEN DONE HAS NOT BEEN
ENOUGH.
AND THE BOTTOM-LINE FIRST
NATIONS ARE STILL SCREAMING FOR
SAFE AND CLEAN DRINKING WATER.
WHY THAT CONTINUES TO BE THE
REALITY TODAY, I'M NOT SURE, BUT
I THINK IT'S GOING INTO THE
ELECTION, PEOPLE ARE GOING TO
REMEMBER WHAT HE PROMISED FOUR
YEARS AGO AND WILL BE REALLY
QUESTIONING WHETHER HE CAN
DELIVER IN THE NEXT FOUR YEARS.

Nam says DAWN.

Dawn says YEAH, I
THINK JUST RESPONDING TO THE
MINISTER THERE, THE LACK OF WILL
IS TO TAKE A STRATEGIC APPROACH
TO RESOLVING SOME OF THESE
ISSUES.
SO A LOT OF THE MONEY WAS
RELEASED, BUT SIX NATIONS WASN'T
ON THAT PRIORITY LIST, IF YOU
WILL, AND WE APPRECIATE WHAT
NORTHERN RELATIVES ARE GOING
THROUGH.
I WORK WITH GRASSY NARROWS, BUT
WHAT WE... DEALING WITH MERCURY
IS A COMPLEX ISSUE.
SO THERE IS A NEED TO TAKE THIS
OVERALL ISSUE AND ADDRESS IT AS
A STRATEGIC... AS YOU WOULD ANY
COUNTRY.
IF YOU'RE GOING TO DEAL WITH
IRAN, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO DO IT
IN A PIECEMEAL FASHION.
YOU'RE GOING TO SIT DOWN AND
YOU'RE GOING TO BRING ALL THE
RESOURCES YOU HAVE TO ADDRESS
THE OVERALL ISSUE, LONG TERM,
SHORT TERM.
AND THAT'S WHERE I FIND IT'S
PIECEMEAL AND IT'S ON A
FOUR-YEAR CYCLE...

Nam says AND IT'S A REAL CONCERN
NOW WITH THE ELECTION COMING, IF
THE GOVERNMENT WAS TO CHANGE,
THEN IT WOULD BE RESET AGAIN.

Dawn says YEAH, AND
ONTARIO HAS A VERY UNIQUE
SITUATION NOW WITH DOUG FORD
REDUCING A LOT OF THE GOOD
THINGS THAT WERE HAPPENING.
SO WE'RE ALWAYS IN THIS FRENZY.
IF WE DON'T GET THIS DONE WHILE
TRUDEAU IS IN, WHAT'S GOING TO
HAPPEN?
WE NEED TO DO A LONG-TERM PLAN
AS A COUNTRY THAT DOESN'T RELY
ON WHO'S IN OFFICE, BUT MAKES
THE CANADIAN COMMITMENT TO
RESOLVE THESE ISSUES.

The caption changes to "Producer: Cara Stern, @carastern."

Nam says DAWN, THANK YOU SO MUCH
FOR YOUR INPUT.
MARC AND WILLOW, WE APPRECIATE
YOUR TIME.
WE'VE RUN OUT OF TIME.
AND THAT'S IT FOR TONIGHT'S
AGENDA IN THE SUMMER. I'M NAM
KIWANUKA. THANKS FOR WATCHING
TVO AND FOR JOINING US ONLINE AT
TVO.ORG. AND WE'LL SEE YOU AGAIN
NEXT TIME.

Watch: A Water Emergency in Attawapiskat