Slate Falls celebrates water treatment plant grand opening
Tim Brody - Associate Editor
Slate Falls First Nation Chief Lorraine Crane has been recognized for her leadership and dedication to ensuring safe, clean drinking water for the residents of her community.
On March 6 Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott joined Crane in Slate Falls for the grand opening of the community’s new water treatment plant.
Philpott presented Crane with the inaugural First Nation Water Leadership Award.
“Chief Crane, a long-time advocate for her community and for the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, has demonstrated exceptional determination in making this new drinking water plant a reality,” a press release issued by Indigenous Services Canada explained. “Indigenous Services Canada invested more than $11.6 million for the new water treatment plant that will provide clean, dependable drinking water to all residents, the Bimaychikamah Elementary School, and other community buildings, including the health centre, nurses’ residence, the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service building, and the First Nation’s administration building.
“The water investments also enhance the community’s fire protection capacity through the installation of additional fire hydrants and pumps,” Kenora MP Bob Nault noted.
“Today marks another milestone; another long-term drinking water advisory is lifted in Northwestern Ontario,” stated Nault, who also attended the water treatment plant grand opening. “After 14 long years, the residents of Slate Falls First Nation can now safely drink the water from their taps, thanks to the new water treatment plant.”
Slate Falls First Nation had been under 11 long-term drinking water advisories (LTDWA) since 2004.
Those advisories were lifted on February 5 after final testing of the community’s water was completed.
“Today is a big day to make changes to our lifestyle and we are very excited to finally be able to drink water right from the tap,” Crane shared. “The community is looking forward to not having to purchase water or boil the water, and after almost 14 years of the boil water advisory, it will be a positive adjustment and a change to our lifestyle. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the community for their patience, and the support of elders and leadership throughout this project.” “Behind the lifting of each long-term drinking water advisory is the hard work and dedication of numerous people. To Chief Lorraine Crane and the Slate Falls council, as well as Windigo Tribal Council, congratulations on a job well done,” concluded Nault. “Each member of the community will be positively impacted by this initiative and we are one step closer to a happier, healthier community.”
“Our government made a firm commitment to end all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve by March 2021. With 11 advisories recently lifted in Slate Falls Nation, significant progress is being made,” Philpott remarked.
“Today, I am thrilled to take part in the official grand opening of the new water treatment plant in Slate Falls Nation and to present the inaugural First Nation Water Leadership Award to Chief Lorraine Crane. My congratulations to Chief Crane, Band Council administrators, and staff for all of their work in collaboration with the federal government to bring clean, safe drinking water to the community and end water advisories that residents have endured for far too long,” Philpott added.
“In addition to the $1.8 billion commitment from Budget 2016, Budget 2018 will provide an additional $172.6 million over three years to accelerate, where possible, projects underway across the country to end long-term drinking water advisories sooner. Funds will also address at-risk systems, support capacity building on reserve, and help establish First Nations-led service delivery models,” an Indigenous Services Canada press release stated.