PROGRAM INFORMATION

An essential gift

 

Water is “the core of who we are” and essential to all aspects of life, teaches Rick Favel, a Traditional Knowledge Keeper at the Pasikow Muskwa Healing Centre in the Qu’Appelle Valley. “There’s nothing else in this whole universe that’ll compare to the sacredness of that water.” 

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Ribbon cutting vs. reality

An investigation by a national consortium of universities and media companies found that despite the federal government budgeting over $2 billion over the past five years for eliminating long-term boil-water advisories, nearly half of First Nations we contacted remain unable to consistently deliver clean drinking water to their communities. 

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A struggle for sovereignty

When Cadmus Delorme became Chief of Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan in 2016, the Nation faced some major barriers to addressing water quality problems. Delorme said his relationship with ISC is good these days, but it took hard work to be heard in Ottawa.

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Broken relations, unclear accountability

Our investigation found that broken treaties and the loss of sovereignty to manage and protect water resources lie at the heart of today’s drinking water crisis. The Indian Act and layers of bureaucracy that surround it have confounded the quest for clean water, while the involvement of multiple provincial, federal and territorial jurisdictions obscures the lines of accountability when things go wrong.

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Precious and imperiled

In a survey of 122 water operators across the country, 35 water operators expressed concerns about known or suspected contamination from nearby industries. As well, 32 felt climate change was impacting water quality, mainly through increased flooding that introduces contaminants to water sources.                 

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Taking control

Faced with ongoing boil water alerts, some Saskatchewan First Nations have begun taking back control over water resources. In the process, they’ve pioneered new treatment processes and technologies that could help resolve water issues across the country.

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A historic collaboration

 

This website showcases research undertaken by students at the University of Regina School of Journalism and First Nations University of Canada, as part of a nationwide investigation led by the Institute for Investigative Journalism at Concordia. Over 100 students, instructors and journalists across Canada have so far together produced over 30 regional and national articles and broadcasts examining First Nations drinking water problems and solutions — including the stories and current affairs program featured on this website.

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