Canada’s clean water promise excludes some Indigenous communities, says local grand chief

A local Indigenous leader says the federal government’s focus on access to clean drinking water may be neglecting Indigenous reserves in less dire situations.
Joel Abram, grand chief of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, said that reserves with water treatment systems still need to reach provincial standards, despite a federal promise to focus on ending boil-water advisories.
"While we understand it’s important to address those situations, its left a lot of other people in the dark as to where they stand in terms of drinking water facilities not meeting standards or capacity issues," he said.
Abram was in Ottawa this week to speak with government leaders about the issue.
"Although we need to look at the worst of the worst, we also need to ensure that those [reserves] that do have water treatment facilities meet the regulations," he said.
Officials of the Ontario Clean Water Agency said the treatment facility at Oneida Nation of the Thames did not meet provincial standards, said Abram.
The inspection also found that the filtration system is at capacity, which can limit the amount of new infrastructure and houses that can built on the reserve.
Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott and members of her department assured Abram that they were moving as quickly as they could.

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