By Meg Crane
Running water is a beautiful thing. It means you can wash your hands, safely hydrate and cook food. You can clean your home and family. Running water means health and sanitation.
According to the documentary No Running Water, each Winnipegger uses an average of 314 liters of water each day. In some places in Manitoba, people must get by on 10 liters of treated water and 20 untreated.
Across Canada, 3,000 reserves don’t have running water. About 2/5 of these are in Manitoba.
In some northern communities, families are delivered a set amount of water each day or week. If they need more, they must walk to get it. Even in the winter. Sometimes it’s from lakes that don’t have clean water. If they use this water for drinking, they get sick. They use buckets as toilets and dump them outside in a pile where garbage is thrown.
The conditions are astonishing and the effects are clear. H1N1, whooping cough, and a superbug have plagued these communities. Some people have diarrhea and are vomiting on a regular basis.
Thankfully, though, some people are working to change the situation.
The University of Manitoba runs a number of projects that aim to get running water into the homes of all Manitobans.
This is a training program that combines technical water and wastewater management training with Indigenous theory, law and methodological skills training. The University of Manitoba, Trent University and the University College of the North are all involved in the project.
The Right to Clean Water in First Nations: The Most Precious Gift
This research project aims to confront Canadian’s apathy towards the lack of clean water on First Nations.
This project is targeted at grade school students. It teaches them the basics of water quality analysis, including why it is important. They also looked at what is going on in their own communities.
Seminar series on First Nations and the Right to Water
Between 2012 to 2013 there were a number of seminars held on the issue at the University of Manitoba. The podcasts can still be found online at chrr.info/resources/critical-conversations/453-water-seminars-podcasts.
For more information on all these projects go to chrr.info/index.php/water-rights.
What you can do
-Do research and find out what’s going on
-Talk about the issue and make other people aware
-Write the provincial and federal government
-Show the communities your support by being vocal on a regular basis