First Nations Water Crisis in Ontario, Canada

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We are proud Canadians who are concerned about the freshwater crisis in the First Nations’ Communities. Fortunately, Canada has one-fifth of the world’s freshwater resources to support 0.49% of the world’s population, but unfortunately, the Indigenous people of Canada, to whom this land rightfully belongs, have been fighting for their right to clean drinking water for decades, while in the cities we are privileged and take it for granted. As Canadians, we proudly support Human Rights internationally, but ironically, violate the human rights of the Indigenous people, the rightful owners of the land we are mining, drilling, fracking and laying pipelines on. We know that the revenue is important, but we must understand that, under any circumstances, we should not exploit our land to the point of no return. Hence, we decided to write this petition in order to create awareness and request an action to resolve this crisis.

Students Water Advocacy Group, (SWAG),  is a group of students from Humberwood Downs Junior Middle Academy, a Toronto District School Board school. While conducting research for our Hydro Dynamics project for the First Lego League competition, we searched for water problems in Ontario and were hoping to see none. Soon we realized the hollowness of the treaty acknowledgement that is read daily on the PA  system every morning. We, mostly the immigrants, are thriving on the land that was purchased from the First Nations, and they, to whom all this land belonged to, are struggling on the reserves that we limited them to. We feel that acknowledgement is not a synonym for respect!

Our research opened our eyes and attitude towards the freshwater crisis in the First Nations communities across Ontario. We created a portable water filter that can be customized according to the needs of different First Nations’ families. We have also made some recommendations based on our findings. Our first recommendation has already been implemented, i.e., dissolve INAC, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, and create new departments to service as well as build relations with the Indigenous people. We congratulate you, Mr. Trudeau, Ms. Philpott and Ms. Bennett on forming two new departments to service, support and build relations, i.e., Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC). We are pleased and hopeful.

Here are the top three measures we propose that should help resolve this water crisis:

  1. Implementation of  Bill C- 262: the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDRIP) that the Liberal Government is already supporting. Canada’s representation on any world stage is not justified unless the Indigenous people of this land are. 
  2. Customize services to their needs as one size doesn't fit all: Every First Nations’ community is unique. Please research for solutions that suit the people, land and climate. The building codes for southern Ontario do not work in northern regions. Kindly find experts that are willing to work with the First Nations to understand the land and its people, and train them to be self-sufficient to run a filtration plant.  
  3. A Holistic Approach: The Canadian government does not know the land better than the Indigenous people of Canada. So, provide the First Nations control over decisions affecting their communities and their way of life by working with them to build their homes, and plan the communities they have chosen to live in. Water purification efforts cannot be sustained until everything else connected to water use is supported, i.e, wastewater management, agriculture, green-houses and seed libraries.

In conclusion, please support us in raising awareness about the lack of potable water in the First Nations’ communities of Ontario.  Provide the respect and services the Indigenous people deserve by implementing Bill C-262, customizing services to the needs of the First Nations’ communities affected by the lack of clean water, and supporting a holistic approach to resolving community-based issues best resolved by the members who live there. As proud Canadians, we owe it to the original inhabitants of this land, namely the First Nations. We also owe it to the generations that will follow. We choose our legacy.

“We do not inherit land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

- Indigenous Wisdom


Student Water Advocacy Group (SWAG),

Humberwood Hurricanes FLL Team

Humberwood Downs Junior Middle Academy (Toronto District School Board

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