Pretty water bottle, right? This post is not about what you might think. Should you ditch single-use plastic water bottles? Yes, if you have access to clean drinking water, and can bring a reusable water bottle with you. But that’s not the full story.
More than 56 First Nations communities (a conservative estimate) in Canada do not have access to clean drinking water. How can this possibly be? And how can we put plastic water bottle bans in place without addressing that Indigenous people do not have the basic human right of clean water, on the land that was stolen from them? It is unacceptable.
The Globe and Mail recently published an article about the water crisis in the Neskantaga First Nation in Northern Ontario. They have been under a boil water advisory for 25 years. Babies have grown into adults without ever having access to clean tap water. Now, with broken water pumps, there’s almost no water at all. People are becoming ill, and evacuating.
As a mother to a toddler, I can’t imagine not having clean water instantly from my tap whenever my son wants a drink, or when we brush our teeth, or for a bath. When there’s road work being done on our street, we receive notifications in advance and save water, bemoaning the inconvenience of a few hours without water.
Indigenous people are on the front lines of climate change, and are one of the groups most impacted by the climate crisis. They are much more likely to live in poverty, and they suffer from generations of trauma due to residential schools and other forms of cultural genocide.
It’s time to demand better from our politicians, and show up for our First Nations people, who we fail over and over again. I am not an expert, and I don’t have all the answers, but here are some action items:
- Ask politicians what they are doing about the problem, and vote accordingly.
- Educate yourself on the issues.
- Diversify your social media feeds, and follow Indigenous content creators (for example, @indigenousclimateaction, @lilnativeboy, @autumn.peltier)
- Support First Nations-owned businesses and organizations.
- Donate to organizations campaigning for safe water.