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NESKANTAGA FIRST NATION AND CANADA CONTINUE TO MAKE PROGRESS RESOLVING CANADA’S LONGEST DRINKING WATER ADVISORY

Press Release

From: Indigenous Services Canada

Ottawa, Ontario, Unceded Algonquin Traditional Territory (FEBRUARY 1, 2024)

Today, on the 29th anniversary of Neskantaga First Nation’s drinking water advisory, the Minister of Indigenous Services, Patty Hajdu, met with Neskantaga First Nation Chief Christopher Moonias to discuss the progress made toward resolving their long-term drinking water advisory.

“Neskantaga First Nation and the Government of Canada are making significant progress toward sustainable and long-term access to clean, safe drinking water. We know that when people think about drinking water advisories in Canada, they think about Neskantaga, which has endured Canada’s longest drinking water advisory at 10,591 days and counting. It is essential to rebuild the trust of community members in their water supply.

Neskantaga and the Government of Canada are working together on a 12-point action plan to address the community’s immediate and long-term needs. Today’s meeting coincided with the Government’s additional investment to resolve issues at the existing water treatment plant that would, once addressed, enable the First Nation to lift the drinking water advisory after 29 years. As a result of these new investments, and thanks to the hard work of the community, important progress has been made toward the community having the confidence to lift the existing long-term drinking water advisory.

Chief Moonias and Minister Hajdu agree that a new water plant will be needed to meet the needs of the community. As a start, Minister Hajdu committed to supporting Neskantaga in the design phase of this new plant. This commitment serves as a clear reminder that the Government of Canada will continue to work in true partnership with Neskantaga First Nation so that its people can trust the water coming out of the taps for generations to come.

This work builds on the existing investments totalling $29.4 million to retrofit the community’s current water treatment plant, initially built in 1993 and expanded in 2017.

We also recognize that the long-term drinking water advisory has a long-lasting impact on the mental health and wellbeing of community members. No one in Neskantaga has ever experienced clean, safe drinking water in their homes – a full generation has gone without drinking from their taps, unlike others in neighboring cities like Thunder Bay. The Government of Canada will follow Neskantaga’s lead and continue to fund First Nation-led initiatives meant to support healing from the trauma inflicted by having the longest drinking water advisory in Canada.

Chief Moonias and Minister Hajdu are optimistic with the progress to date, and will continue to meet regularly as they have been doing over the past two years. We will work together so that the community has the confidence to lift the existing long-term drinking water advisory and can rely on a long-term solution to bring safe, clean drinking water towards a new beginning.”

Background

In 2021, Neskantaga, Tataskweyak Cree Nation and Curve Lake First Nation agreed to settle their national class action against the Government of Canada for failing to adequately fund and provide access to clean, safe drinking water. As part of this Settlement Agreement, Canada agreed to provide a minimum of $6 billion to make all reasonable efforts to ensure Individual Class Members living on Reserves have regular access to clean, safe drinking water in their homes. For more information, visit: https://firstnationsdrinkingwater.ca/

Courts approve settlement agreement to resolve class action litigation related to safe drinking water in First Nations communities – Canada.ca

Contacts
For more information, media may contact:

Chris Moonias
Chief
Neskantaga First Nation
(807) 629-1877
Chief@Neskantaga.com

Reem Sheet
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for FedNor
Reem.Sheet@sac-isc.gc.ca

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada
819-953-1160
media@sac-isc.gc.ca

ILR4

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