Water is a fundamental right and according to the United Nations we are apparently one of the best countries to live in. Canada is considered a world leader in fighting for human rights, yet hundreds of thousands of First Nations, Inuit and Métis continue to suffer 3rd world like conditions.
Many of you may have come across the phrase posted everywhere 'Water is Life'. Yet the sacred water that has given us all life and is the veins to Mother Earth continues to be mistreated with contaminants and pollutants.
Many of us think our water is safe to drink and that our water treatment facilities are safe. What if I was to tell you the very water that you drink is really not as safe as you think it is. Most, if not all of our water in Canada must be treated with chemicals. In particular, (Chlorine) and this is overseen and controlled by Health Canada and trickles down to the municipalities overseeing the public water systems.
They put chemicals in our water to rid the water of any water-borne diseases and the truth is, if we did not add chemicals to the water we would all be dead in as little as 2-3 days!
However, if the truth be told, that very chemical I just mentioned 'Chlorine' is diluted with organic matter in treatment facilities it creates deadly by-products (Disinfection by-products) also referred to as called Trihalomethanes (THMs) and these by-products have been factually connected to heart disease, eczema, asthma, and even cancer.
It is estimated that 3.5 million people die yearly because of water-borne diseases and this is because of illnesses caused by unclean water.
Maude Barlow, Chair of the Council of Canadians states that when water is seen as a "Human Right" it creates three obligations for the nation.
1. The obligation to respect
2. The obligation to protect
3. The obligation to fulfill
Within Canada there are roughly 634 First Nations in Canada and regardless of the water mandate many of these communities are living under drinking water advisories that require them to boil their tap water, or avoid drinking the water completely, because of contamination.
Canada is failing its obligations to protect and fulfill the human right to water in aboriginal communities.
Just look at the contamination that occurred in Walkerton, Ontario where there were seven deaths and thousands of cases documenting illness in 2000.
Our Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada argue that getting sick from drinking water for Canadians remains low, however they also say that their exerts have determined what a safe amount of chlorine is for human consumption and that on-going studies still need to be done to determine the severity of the by-products from the chlorine and the connections to cancer.
They further state that if you are not happy with your water in your community or municipality then you should research and install a certified water purification system in your home.
Despite the fact that Canada has the world's third largest per-capita freshwater reserve, the water many Indigenous communities depend on is contaminated, difficult to access, or at risk due to faulty treatment systems.