Saturday, 18 April 2009

Neglect, or racism? - water and native rights

Water walk: courtesy of NWAC
On 13 April 2009 native women in Canada, the USA and and Australia held a National Water Day calling for action. Local events included traditional water ceremonies, vigils, feasts, prayers, and walks.

Black Tickle NF is a Métis community which depends for water on wells in summer and running brooks in the winter.” “In January, 2000, there were 404 visits to the clinic (out of a population of 268).
People know the water is not fit. But there is nothing else to get. It don’t taste proper. Sometimes it leaves a brown scum. But we still don’t have better water for drinking for sure. That’s where you get your sickness… from the water. There’s a lot of stomach sickness, stomach flus, vomiting and diarrhea.

National Aboriginal Health Organization brief 2002

For decades, Ottawa dozed on similar problems in hundreds of native communities across Canada, issuing periodic “boil water” advisories. Provinces ducked responsibility, saying native health is a federal matter. Until 7 whites died of bad water in Walkerton Ontario in 2000, the media ignored the issue; but then for weeks headlines called for a public inquiry.

In October 2005, Kashechewan ON suffered from waterborne diarrhea, scabies and impetigo. Chlorination was increased to "shock" levels. Then residents had to be evaculated, at a cost of $16 million: CBC 9 Nov 06. Many native communities still run such risks.

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples held five years of hearings in the 1990s. It said starkly, The main policy direction, pursued for more than 150 years, first by colonial then by Canadian governments, has been wrong. But the Harper government refuses to act on its numerous recommendations (see the RCAP CD in most libraries).

Opposing last year's declaration of aboriginal rights at the UN were Canada, Russia, USA, Australia and New Zealand.
See also Council of Canadians World Water Day , BC-based Peace Earth & Justice news, Navajo Nation Water Haulers videos, Peoples Water Forum protests in Istabul March 2009; and subsequent PWF activities,

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Great blog! I really enjoy reading these posts!

As for water, check out the documentary "Flow" if you haven't already. As for human rights, labor issues, and sustainability, check out and get involved with Corporate Accountability International's global movement.

My motto is education helps, action changes.

Keep up the great work,