March 22, 2018
(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde issued the following statement today on World Water Day 2018 – Nature of Water, marked every year on March 22.
“Water is sacred for First Nations and key to a healthy environment and the health and well-being of all living things,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Yet too many First Nations are living at risk with no access to clean water. It affects our health, education and livelihood. This is unacceptable in a developed country like Canada. The federal government’s goal of ending all drinking water advisories in First Nations communities by 2021 is clearly a challenge, but we can achieve it by working together in a spirit of partnership and reconciliation. World Water Day is a time to reaffirm this goal and redouble our efforts.”
The United Nations states that 2.1 billion people in the world do not have safe drinking water in their homes. In Canada, as of March 5 there are 81 long-term drinking water advisories in 56 First Nation communities affecting 45,000 First Nations citizens who do not have access to safe drinking water.
AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart, who holds the portfolio for Water, Housing and Infrastructure, said: “Access to clean water is a human right. We cannot wait any longer to address the question as to why we have so many existing and re-occurring drinking water advisories for our First Nations communities. The only way the federal government will achieve their commitments to end drinking water advisories by March 2021 is through significant investments in First Nation communities and by working with us to support capacity and innovation.”
Today marks the launch by the UN General Assembly of the International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028. The Decade will focus on the sustainable development and integrated management of water resources to achieve social, economic and environmental objectives, the implementation and promotion of related programs and projects, as well as furthering cooperation and partnership at all levels to help to achieve internationally agreed water-related goals and targets, including those in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 commits to ensure everyone in the world has access to safe drinking water by 2030.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
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