The Deadly Waters in the Northern First Nations

Carly McIntosh

Imagine every morning having to set a full pot of tap water on your stove and continuing to wait for it to boil just to be able to drink it. As a parent it would be a set demand in your daily schedule. Having to live with this issue for over twenty years, it would become your normal style of daily living.

In the north of Ontario, Neskantaga First Nation has been living with this issue for twenty-one straight years. In all of Canada, Neskantaga First Nation has been under the longest running water advisory in history and still running. Neskantaga First Nation's Chief Wayne Moonias has been fighting the Canadian Government constantly on making First Nation's health a top issue in Canada. The Canadian Government has been seen to deal with other political issues instead of giving the time to fight and stop a life-threatening issue.

In 1993 a water treatment plant was built by the Government of Canada, but Chief Wayne Moonias noticed problems were happening with the plant in just seconds. Now it is 2016 and with the fail in Canadian Government, Neskantaga First Nation is still having to deal with this deadly issue. Last year the children on Neskantaga First Nation were developing skin sores all over their body and increase in regularity and severity. Having low chances in seeing doctors and nurses, Neskantaga First Nations did not receive the proper diagnosis.

For many years First Nations have been trying to transport bottled water to their Territories, but through our long Canadian winters the bottled water does not get delivered. The highways and roads get overly covered in snow making it impossible for vehicles to get through.

As for Nazko First Nation, Alexis Creek First Nation and Lake Babine First Nation they have been dealing with the same issue for 17 years. These three First Nations are set in British Columbia, making them the next three in line for the worst life-threatening waters. Day by day the number of other First Nation’s in the Canadian north are slowly being added to the list of toxic waters, the numbers keep increasing. The Government of Canada is doing nothing to help them, and doing nothing is a constant continuous vicious cycle.

Health Canada has been contacted many times but has been declining all interviews. The Minister of Health has been saying that she has no comment and instead of making communication with the First Nation’s all they have been getting is cheques with no consideration. When you know how the Canadian Government works, you know that they are only sending the First Nation’s monies because they do not want to deal with the real issue.

Coming back to the issue of First Nation children developing sores on their skin, some have said it is Impetigo. The illness of Impetigo is known as a high risk skin condition, known for skin sores manifesting on your child's face, neck, and hands. With the growing number of children having to live with these skin conditions, many children have gotten so sick that they had to be taken from their home to get help.

When the topic of First Nation's children developing skin sores was brought up to the Health Minister she would disagree that the water is what was causing it. I, myself, have to say when you are a caring parent and you see that your child is developing a skin condition, you know with your heart exactly what is causing the illness to your child.

Our Prime Minister of Canada has said that he wants to start a new beginning with our First Nations, the question is when is that new beginning going to start? He has been Prime Minister of Canada since November 2015, and I have not heard anything focusing on helping our First Nation's with their water.

The Government of Canada and First Nations need to work together as one to properly use the money in the correct order. Try building a new extreme water treatment plant that will actually work. Send doctors and nurses up north to treat the First Nation's children. Build a properly constructed water treatment plant and begin making the water clean again would be an effective beginning. In the end everything could be stable, and maybe just maybe we could all move on from this twenty-one year old health crisis and be a nation of one.

With what our Canadian Government has done so far I am very ashamed of them and they should be extremely ashamed in themselves.

Carly McIntosh was born and raised in Manitoba, Canada and now resides in Calgary, Alberta. She recently found her ancestry. Her goal is to pursue a future with writing and hopes to open some closed eyes and minds.

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