By Chinta Puxley
The Island Lake Tribal Council says it asked Indian Affairs to help address the water crisis on its four remote reserves northeast of Lake Winnipeg. At least half of the homes on the reserves, which have a combined population of 10,000, don’t have running water
Chief David McDougall of the St. Theresa Point First Nation said Thursday what they got was a shipment of 800 water containers and 1,000 slop pails to use as toilets. Each of the four communities also got a sewage truck, but they don’t have the resources or fuel to run it, he said.
“Three years ago when there was an outbreak of H1N1, Health Canada supplied body bags to our communities, which was very offensive and insensitive,” said McDougall, who lost his niece in the outbreak. “Now Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is supplying slop pails as a solution. This is not acceptable to our people.”
Leaders upset by Ottawa's response
By Kevin Rollason
The chiefs at the four remote aboriginal communities, which make up the area located about 600 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, admitted at a press conference on Thursday they purposely decided to work with the federal government instead of publicly criticizing them in the wake of last year's award-winning Free Press investigation into the lack of clean running water on First Nations.
Now, they admit after taking that approach, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada shortchanged them and only sent them hundreds of water barrels and slop pails, and one water truck and one sewage truck for each of the four reserves, instead of a total of 28 trucks, garages to store them in, seven washroom units, and four laundromat units.
Below: "St. Theresa Point First Nation Chief David McDougall is disappointed by INAC's offering of slop pails to serve as toilets." (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)
For more on the subject, see:
A Thousand Slop Pails: INAC’s Answer to First Nations’ Stop-gap Toilet Request
There are sometimes 15 people to a toilet in some First Nations communities. Yet when chiefs of several First Nations chiefs from the region surrounding Island Lake in northern Manitoba asked federal officials for some stop-gap measures while they work out long-term water and sewage infrastructure plans, they were sent 999 slop pails, the Toronto Sun reports, along with 800 water barrels, plus one water truck and one sewage truck for each community, though without a maintenance plan or fuel cost provisions.
Not quite as civilized as the chiefs had envisioned. When they met with officials from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) in December 2010 to address the lack of water- and sewage-related infrastructure in remote communities, they had in mind things like Porta-Potties and holding tanks, plus communal facilities for bathing and laundry.
“They agreed to help us with short-term solutions. Their solutions are slop pails and 45-gallon drums. That’s not acceptable,” said Chief Dino Flett, of the Garden Hill First Nation, according to the Sun. “In some houses, 15 people have to use that slop pail. That’s not safe. That’s not healthy.”
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