Neskantaga First Nation chief, Kiiwetinoong MPP call on premier to meet with Neskantaga
Tim Brody - Editor
Sol Mamakwa, MPP for Kiiwetinoong and the NDP’s Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation critic, is calling on Doug Ford to meet with Neskantaga and help bring clean drinking water to the community.
Members of Neskantaga First Nation were forced to leave their community in October following a complete shutdown of the community’s water system due to a contaminant. Neskantaga has not had safe drinking water since 1995 – the longest running boil water advisory in Canada.
“The Auditor General reported that Indigenous Peoples, our Nations, are not engaged in the development of government programs and policies that impact us,” said Mamakwa in a Dec. 8 media release. “This is racism, oppression and colonialism in action.
“The repercussions of not engaging with Indigenous communities are dire. We see it being played out on the lives and health of the people of Neskantaga who have no clean drinking water.
“Neskantaga needs the premier’s attention now. They need clean drinking water now.
“Is the premier’s help on the way today, for the people of Neskantaga?”
In a letter Mamakwa linked in his media release, Neskantaga First Nation Chief Christopher Moonias wrote to Premier Doug Ford in a Dec. 7 letter.
“As you must know, our Nation has been living under a boil water advisory for more than a quarter of a century. Over the course of the past few weeks, we have heard you and your ministers address the topic of our water crisis and long-term boil water advisory. We have watched and listened as you have paid lip service to the importance of clean water, without any legitimate commitment of support. What our Nation is striving for is a basic human right, clean drinking water. Premier, let me remind you that Ontario is a signatory to Treaty 9, and as such, has a responsibility to ensure basic human needs and rights are secured for Nations such as Neskantaga. Access to clean water is one of the most basic human needs and rights,” Moonias wrote.
Moonias concluded in his letter to Ford, “Premier, what we need from you is a commitment to assisting Neskantaga First Nation in accessing clean water as human beings, Ontarians, and Treaty rights holders. Specifically, we need Ontario’s support in ensuring that safe, clean drinking water is accessible for community members through operational support. Even in fly-in communities, water treatment plants are highly complex and require operators with long-term specialized training. Professionally operated systems are key to the success of water treatment plants and therefore community access to clean water. We propose setting up a meeting within the next week to discuss further.
“We look forward to hearing from you on how your government will support our Nation’s access to clean water.”
“Not helping is violence,” said Mamakwa. “With this global pandemic hurting the economy, we understand that development of the Far North is an essential part of your recovery plan. Without respect for Treaty No. 9, and support for Neskantaga’s basic human rights, this government has no right to request development on our treaty territories.”
Mamakwa concluded by posing a question to Ford, “Will the premier meet with Neskantaga to discuss their nation’s access to clean water?”