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Statement on World Water Day 2024 – Water for Peace

Press Release

From: Indigenous Services Canada

Ottawa, Ontario (March 22, 2024) – Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, issued the following statement:

“I would like to begin by acknowledging the hard work of First Nations communities in safeguarding their waterways, developing innovative water management practices, and sharing their knowledge.

It is essential that together, we protect our waterways and ensure everyone in Canada has access to clean drinking water. This is a basic human right—not a luxury. Since 2015, we have been working in true partnership, in the spirit of reconciliation, with First Nations communities, partners, and organizations to achieve these goals.

Lifting long-term drinking water advisories:
Decades of persistent anti-Indigenous racism and discriminatory funding by successive governments have led to multiple First Nations not having access to clean drinking water. Since 2015 the Government of Canada has significantly increased investments.

As of March 22, 2024, First Nations have successfully lifted 144 long-term drinking water advisories with support from Indigenous Services Canada since November 2015 and prevented over 270 short-term advisories from becoming long-term. Comprehensive action plans are in place in 26 communities, targeting the resolution of 28 active, long-term advisories.

While there’s still work to do, the number of active long-term drinking water advisories on First Nations has dropped by 73% since 2015. Today, 96% of all First Nations communities do not have a long-term water advisory.

I commend water operators and a network of Indigenous water walkers, water keepers, and water carriers for safeguarding water. Indigenous Services Canada will continue to work with First Nations, supporting sustainable First Nations-led approaches to on-reserve water systems and securing safe and clean drinking water for future generations.

Advancing new proposed legislation to ensure clean drinking water for generations to come:
Bill C-61, the proposed First Nations Clean Water Act, was introduced last year. It marks a substantial advancement in the Government of Canada’s ongoing efforts to enhance access to safe drinking water in First Nations communities, aligns with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and offers a pivotal opportunity for meaningful change.

This proposed legislation would support First Nations in reclaiming jurisdiction to manage their own water systems, create pathways to protecting source water, and lay the groundwork for the creation of a First Nation-led water institution to support communities. For the first time in history, it would also hold the federal government accountable to continued funding investments to support the delivery of equitable water infrastructure and services in First Nations communities. Developed through extensive engagement that put First Nations voices at the forefront, this proposed Bill is a concrete step toward access to clean drinking water for everyone in Canada. ”

For more information, media may contact:

Jennifer Kozelj
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for FedNor

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada


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