“We will continue to pursue a First Nations -owned and -operated water authority” – Grand Chief Jerry Daniels
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 18, 2023
ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) supports the findings of the Human Rights Watch World Report 2022 on issues affecting human rights and Indigenous Peoples.
“The key focus of this report is about what global leaders need to do as it pertains to respecting human rights and creating a better world,” said SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “When it comes to human rights for the First Peoples of Canada, our federal Treaty partners have work to do, especially when it comes to infrastructure and water.”
The report states that while Canada enjoys a global reputation as a defender of human rights, the government also faces longstanding challenges. Many of these relate to the rights of Indigenous peoples, including violations of the right to safe drinking water. First Nations are the only people in Canada who do not have any guaranteed drinking water quality standards.
“Many of our communities are struggling right now with poor drinking and wastewater infrastructure that needs to be repaired, upgraded, and even replaced,” continued Grand Chief Daniels. “The current federal process to upgrade or replace this infrastructure is combative and is failing our peoples.”
SCO notes the current method of procuring new water and wastewater treatment plants, water delivery infrastructure, and the formulas used by the federal government to supply operation and maintenance dollars is outdated, flawed, and ripe for corruption and monopolization by companies and consultants who rely on the current process for work.
The process also assigns all water and wastewater risk to communities, and the liability for system failures falls directly on Chief and Council. This approach has led to systemic failures of drinking water systems for our peoples.
“The bottom line is we need a First Nations-owned and -operated water authority to deliver drinking and wastewater services to all SCO member First Nations,” added Grand Chief Daniels. “While we are eager to move forward with developing this water utility, we await funding to make this work possible. I encourage Canada to stand with us and support the journey to developing this water authority. I am hopeful we can work together to build a country that can stand proud in its support of human rights.”
For the last four years, SCO has been working to monitor our water to ensure its cleanliness and potability. This work is underway to help address water issues and to ensure the safety of SCO First Nations.
SCO has developed a comprehensive Water Testing Program, a continuation of the water testing project initiated by the Chiefs of the southern First Nations in 2019. SCO member First Nations will be able to use the results from the water testing to inform the decision-making process around water and its usage in their own region.
The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 83,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.
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