(NESKANTAGA, ON) – Neskantaga First Nation issued the following statement regarding their current water crisis.
Neskantaga First Nation issued an elevated Statement of Emergency (SOE) with respect to the denial of an emergency evacuation request made to Indigenous Services Canada this morning due to an exacerbated water crisis. On Thursday, they experienced a break down in water-pump and back-up water-pump. This has resulted in unfiltered/contaminated water with low pressure running through community taps. Some community members are not receiving water. They say this is an extreme crisis. This situation has also resulted in the closure of the school until an undetermined date.
Neskantaga First Nation is appalled with the federal government’s response and are calling for the immediate emergency evacuation of 188 people most directly affected. This includes those designated Stage 1 Chronic, who are: 50 females, 37 males, 72 children (2 years old+), Elders and 17 infants (under 2 years). At least 10 patients so far are being treated for skin infections by the nursing station which is only open for emergencies due to this current water crisis.
The community is ectremely concerned about the effects this will have and already people have reported beginning to experience headaches and fevers. They are concerned that the manner in which their water crisis is being responded to by the federal departments, including an environmental health officer, equating it to a “boil your water for one-minute” issue mimimizes the severity of teh situation.
Chief Chris Moonias concluded with the following statement: “This continued water crisis goes beyond boiling contaminated water-the bigger issue is that peoples’ basic fundamental human rights are being contravened and continually ignored. It’s unbelievable that Canda, one of the richest countries in the world, continues to condone this kind of injustice on our vulnerable-children and elders especially.”
Chris Moonias, Chief of Neskantaga First Nation also made the following statements.
“Earlier today in our conference call Health Canada’s Environmental Health Officer advised ISC that the untreated water flowing into our houses was okay and that the community should boil the water for one minute and shower with it. The EHO hasn’t been in the community during our crisis. What am i expected to do? Throw boiled water on myself?? … glad we have the recording.”
“Neskantaga FN’s State of Emergency on Water Crisis
Self Evacuation Mobilization of approximately 137 Stage 1 Evacuees has begun.
The first load of evacuees have left and should arrive in Thunder Bay at 730pm.
There will be 11 flights evacuating people through out the night.
Please pray for Neskantaga FN”
The above statement was made on Sunday.
“To Neskantaga First Nation members and residents. I am calling for an evacuation due to the water crisis for the most vulnerable people (band members or not) using our own resources. It is clear that ISC and Health Canada will not take any further preventative actions therefore we have to do our own evacuation. Our staff is currently making the appropriate arrangements for this evacuation and you will be contacted by our staff. SHAME ON CANADA!!!
This is what I woke up to this morning and I am not going anywhere until my people are taken care of ..”
“As you notice this tap is on the highest setting and the water pressure is so low. Some houses don’t have any water at all. This water is untreated.”
The video posted by Chief Moonias is below.
“Look at how much Canada spends in Foreign Aid, but can’t even help with the water crisis in Neskantaga First Nation. We are Treaty Rights holders, our communities shouldn’t be dealing with the water crisis, and all other crises should have been at a minimum by now but it’s not.
Not saying that these other countries aren’t deserving of any help, but If Canada can dish out billions of dollars to other countries, why can’t it fix the water crisis in our communities? Households have to boil their water, will the people be reimbursed for their high hydro bills?” – Jessica Wabano
This is a developing story but we will keep you updated as more information becomes available.