artwork by Micah Bazant
In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated March 22 as World Water Day. It is a day to draw attention to the inequities that exist for water access around the world and in Canada. Water is a basic human right. We all need access to safe water. Water is life. Water is medicine. Currently, there are 81 long-term drinking water advisories — in existence for a year or more — in First Nations communities across Canada. There are many more short term advisories. Water systems have been polluted or flooded out by colonial development such as paper mills and hydro dams.
In Winnipeg our drinking water is piped in from Shoal Lake. The process of bringing water to Winnipeg via an aqueduct has cut off clean water supplies for the people of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. They continue to be under a boil water advisory that started 20 years ago. However, for every act of colonization there have been acts of resistance. Indigenous peoples and allies have been working to end this injustice and protect our water systems. We see this in the US with the North Dakota Access Pipeline and we also see it in Canada. Communities such as Grassy Narrows, Shoal Lake 40 and their allies have been organizing to draw attention from both the wider public, media and politicians to the water issues impacting their people, community and land.
Want to help?
Learn more about the true environmental and human impacts of our hydro system. Wa Ni Ska Tan: An Alliance of Hydro Impacted Communities is hosting a march and panel night at Thunderbird house on World Water Day. The rally starts ay 5:30pm at The Manitoba Hydro Building, 360 Portage Avenue, and then will proceed to walk to the Circle of Life Thunderbird House at 715 Main Street arriving around 6:30pm. At the Circle of Life Thunderbird House five Indigenous leaders from hydro-impacted communities across the province will share their stories.
We can all speak out against the water injustices of this land. You can learn about water rights in Canada and Indigenous communities and share the information with those around you. Read about the risks pipelines and hydro dams bring to all the communities and water systems they pass through including Line 3 in Manitoba. The more we all know and care about water, the better it will be protected. Petition, organize and protest what’s going on. Look for active groups that exist in your community or start one yourself. It is only with people speaking out, that water systems can be preserved and restored.