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Something to ponder

Tragically, water—a symbol of life and a fundamental human right—is out of reach for a large number of Indigenous communities across Canada. Even though Canada is one of the richest countries in the world, its inability to provide Indigenous Peoples with clean, safe drinking water serves as a sobering reminder of systematic neglect and lingering colonial legacies. This article explores the grave injustice of Indigenous communities in Canada not having access to clean drinking water and the pressing need for change.

A lengthy history of colonisation, dispossession, and institutional discrimination is the reason why Indigenous communities in Canada lack access to clean water. The policies of resource exploitation, forced migration, and environmental deterioration have resulted in polluted water supplies and poor infrastructure, which disproportionately harm Indigenous populations. This history of disregard keeps the cycles of injustice, illness, and poverty alive.

Many Indigenous communities in Canada still struggle with dangerous drinking water conditions, even after multiple pledges and assurances from succeeding administrations. A 2020 study from the David Suzuki Foundation states that long-term drinking water advisories are still in place for more than 50 Indigenous communities nationwide, some of which have been in place for decades. These warnings alert locals to the health concerns associated with pollutants including heavy metals, toxins, and germs that make water supplies dangerous to drink and unfit for human consumption.

Indigenous Peoples’ health and wellbeing are greatly impacted by their inability to obtain clean water. Higher incidence of waterborne infections, such as skin disorders, renal disease, and gastrointestinal infections, are linked to contaminated water sources. The negative impacts of contaminated drinking water can particularly harm children and the elderly, aggravating already-existing health inequities in Indigenous communities.

Indigenous populations bear a disproportionate share of the burden of contaminated drinking water, which is indicative of larger trends in environmental injustice and racism. Due to their frequent marginalisation and exclusion from resource management and environmental protection decision-making processes, Indigenous Peoples’ lands and water supplies are frequently the locations of dangerous infrastructure like mines, landfills, and industrial projects. The difficulties Indigenous groups experience in sustaining traditional practices and obtaining clean water are exacerbated by this environmental deterioration.

It is imperative that all governmental and social levels take swift, coordinated action to address the issue of Indigenous communities in Canada not having access to clean drinking water. Important projects need to consist of: 

  • Meeting political pledges to remove long-term drinking water advisories and guarantee all Indigenous communities have access to dependable and clean water infrastructure.
  • Putting money into locally driven, sustainable water management initiatives that put Indigenous sovereignty, cultural values, and environmental care first.
  • Acknowledging and defending Indigenous peoples’ rights to uncontaminated water and meaningful involvement in water governance and resource management decision-making processes.
  • Addressing colonial mindsets and systemic racism that support environmental injustices and unequal access to clean water.
  • Supporting water preservation, restoration, and revitalization projects headed by Indigenous people that are based on their traditional wisdom and holistic wellness philosophies.

In conclusion, the Canadian Indigenous communities’ lack of access to potable water is a serious injustice that necessitates immediate action and structural change, not just a technical or administrative issue. We may strive towards a future where all Indigenous Peoples have access to clean and safe drinking water, guaranteeing their dignity, health, and well-being for future generations, by upholding Indigenous rights, respecting Indigenous sovereignty, and giving community-led solutions priority. It is our joint duty as Canadians to tackle this injustice and support Indigenous Peoples in their fight for equitable access to water.

You can read more on the subject at Still Thirsty for Justice and in the Environment Journal.

Resources for dedication of Mohawk Bible

Many Mohawk Bibles have already been delivered to individuals and communities of faith, with more on their way. The Living into Right Relations Leadership Circle has developed some ideas to help communities of faith dedicate their copies of the Mohawk Bible with respect and gratitude, including liturgical resources, video clips of Harvey Satewas Gabriel reading from the Mohawk Bible and other resources about the significance of this translation.

Download resources: Ohiatonhseratokénti, The Holy Bible in Mohawk

Volunteers needed at the Indigenous Health Centre of Tiohtià:ke!

You can find the sign-up form here.


The Constitution Act, 1867 was the law passed by the British Parliament on 29 March 1867 to create the Dominion of Canada.

Here is the full article in The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Save the date

On April 7 is World Health Day.

Food for thought

Canada is known around the world as a country based on the rule of law, human rights, and democracy. How does your understanding of Indigenous sovereignty offer a different lens on that reputation?

Resource: Home on Native Land, a ten-week course from Raven 


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Email Avi Abrams, program coordinator, at respect.kanoronhkwatshera@gmail.com