Water crisis among indigenous communities in Canada
Water is central to Indigenous ways of life, and most communities had multifaceted sociocultural practices in relation to water. However, colonial and post- colonial policies and various forms of resource extraction have made water contaminated and become scarce
resource especially for marginalized population. Long-term drinking water advisories in effect in 31 communities across Canada. Water is not free anymore and it is a profitable commodity in our current world. As part of land and resource reclamation movements among the indigenous communities Canada has increased acknowledgment of indigenizing water governance and identified access to drinking water as part of their human and cultural right.
write an essay from a social science perspective about the Water crisis among Indigenous communities in Canada. Your essay should
begin with a clear thesis statement. In this essay, students are asked to select one Indigenous community in Canada facing a water crisis; then, examine what are historical and political policies and programs that have created the crisis to the specific indigenous community. It is also expected that as an ecologically and ethically concerned scholar/ engineer you will analyze the water issue by incorporating at least three key concepts, and theories, and propose alternative solutions of the crisis. In this essay, students must reflect on Indigenous water governance as one of the key ideas and in order to do so you can review one of the following articles:
Bradford, Lori EA, Nicholas Ovsenek, and Lalita A. Bharadwaj. “Indigenizing water governance in Canada.” In Water policy and governance in Canada, pp. 269-298. Springer, Cham, 2017.
Wilson, Nicole J. “Seeing Water Like a State?”: Indigenous water governance through Yukon First Nation Self-Government Agreements.” Geoforum 104 (2019): 101-113.
Wilson, Nicole J. “Indigenous water governance: Insights from the hydrosocial relations of the Koyukon Athabascan village of Ruby, Alaska.” Geoforum 57 (2014): 1-11.
You must utilize a minimum of six scholarly academic sources to complete this essay
FORMATTING AND STRUCTURE INSTRUCTIONS:
Your paper must have title, word counts, page numbers, and follow the APA citation and referencing style. Essay must be written in 12 point font and double-spaced. Your essay must be cited properly, with in-text citations and references following APA format, 7th edition.
The first page of your papers should have your name, student number, and world count in the top left corner. Below this please insert your title centred on the page and in bold font or underlined. The text of your paper should begin below this on the same page. Your paper must have page numbers. Each of your references must be a proper academic source. Some Websites are considered proper sources of information, but they should be used for supplementary purposes.
Water Crisis among Indigenous Communities in Canada
Water is an essential commodity for human survival. Canada is among nations in the world that enjoy an abundance of freshwater. Most Canadians have access to enough accessible drinking water; however, that does not apply to all citizens, particularly the indigenous communities. Many first nation communities have had challenges accessing safe drinking water for a long. It is exemplified by the fact that water supplied by the first nation’s reserves is contaminated, inaccessible, and unsafe to faulty treatment systems. The water crisis has disproportionately impacted the indigenous communities in Canada, such as the Kashechewan community, due to three main reasons; environmental racism, lack of regulations to help safeguard water pollution on reserve lands, and impacts of federalism on water distribution around the nation.
According to Wilson (2019), 73% of First Nation’s water systems have been established to be at high risk of water contamination. In 2016, about 105 communities had long-term drinking water advisories in place, which meant that the available water was unsafe for drinking for at least a year. There are many reasons for the water crisis among indigenous communities in Canada, but the most obvious ones are the lack of regulations to guide water quality coupled with erratic funding, lack of proper infrastructure, and the presence of degraded water sources. Also, systematic racism may be another root cause of boil-water advisories and the lack of safe water for consumption among the indigenous communities. These issues, among others, have led to systemic problems with available drinking water on reserves. Over the years, the Canadian government has shown interest in dealing with the water crisis once and fall, but things have not been easy considering its magnitude. For example, in December 2020, the government announced that it had set aside an additional $1.5 billion to accelerate the ongoing work of ensuring that the country fully addresses long-term drinking advisories on public systems on reserves through supporting the maintenance of systems and continuing program investments in water and wastewater management.
Kaschechewan is among indigenous communities in Canada that have been subjected to the water crisis aftermath for the longest. Wilson (2019) notes that, in 2005, the Ontario province ordered an evacuation of residents who lived in the Kaschechewan reserve after discovering E-coli bacteria in the reserve’s drinking water. According to Wilson (2019), it is highly likely to find indigenous populations dealing with water shortage crises than other Canadians. Also, in Norman and Baker’s (2017) insightful post, Canadian indigenous communities are solely the center of all water insecurity problems. In 1995, First Nations reported that 25% of all water systems were contaminated. Also, another successful follow-up conducted in 2002 shows that two-thirds of the First Nation’s drinking water posed safety risks. Besides, progressive reports from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development showed that water systems for more than 90 indigenous communities were in jeopardy. Pollution of public water sources in developed nations is a concerning phenomenon, and considering that Canada is the second-largest per capita clean-water consumer, the water crisis seems unreal.
The main reason behind the water crisis in Canada was the contamination of the intake pipe that was part of Kaschechewan’s water plant installed downstream from a sewage lagoon. Moreover, these water systems lacked proper maintenance and inadequate training of workers on how to ensure that water was kept safe for consumption contributed to the contamination of the water supply. In most cases, drinking water advisories occur when the available water is considered unsafe for drinking and in Canada, these advisories are largely associated with the indigenous communities.
Indigenous communities in Canada have suffered the implications of environmental racism for many years. Normally, environmental racism refers to a particular community being targeted, making it susceptible to environmental harm based on its characteristics. According to Dhillon & Young (2010), environmental racism targets minority communities and low-income families. In Canada, specifically, indigenous communities have been subject to environmental racism. For example, the Kachechewan people that reside in northern Ontario have for many years not been able to have clean water for consumption, and because they do not have alternative sources, they are forced to use it for various activities such as cooking, bathing, and drinking (Bradford et al., 2017). As a result, there have been numerous health-related concerns among the indigenous communities associated with drinking contaminated water. According to Lam et al. (2017), numerous studies have made similar conclusions regarding the plight of the indigenous communities in Canada, citing environmental injustices faced by some areas more than others. It is general knowledge that the native communities of Canada have been treated more unfairly than other Canadians in many ways (Wilson, 2019). The water crisis in Canada is a form of environmental racism that has been and continues to be a problem that perpetuates decisions regarding water use involving indigenous communities.
Also, the lack or absence of regulations to help protect water on reserve lands is another major reason the water crisis has disproportionately affected Kaschechewan and other indigenous communities in Canada. Legal discrimination in the protection of drinking water that the indigenous groups depend on is a primary contributor to the water-related problems. According to Lam et al. (2017), the numerous health problems cases reported among the indigenous people result from consumption of contaminated water, poor sanitation, and lack of proper methods of testing whether water is safe for drinking before people could be allowed to take it. Such problems are avoidable if appropriate regulations are provided to the communities that need them. Surprisingly, the situation in Kaschechewan is no different from other regions such as Walkerton since they have all been singled out and subjected to these unfair treatments.
Nonetheless, the water crisis in Kaschechewan and Walkerton were among the few areas that have had a chance to draw national attention due to numerous suffering and sickness of the indigenous people caused by the consumption of contaminated water (Wilson, 2014). However, very few improvements have been made in the past two decades to help improve the conditions. Increased public concerns have triggered a response from the government whereby several regulatory changes have been incorporated to help ensure that people receive safe water for drinking. Nonetheless, these provincial regulations do not extend to the indigenous people.
Lack of continuous maintenance and inadequate training for those mandated to ensure water was constantly checked for safety contributed to contamination of water in Kaschechewan, among other areas. According to Lam et al. (2017), employing simple improvements may have helped make a difference and prevented the never-ending water crisis in Canada. Also, ensuring that the water was treated could have prevented many health concerns experienced in the country (Sarkar et al., 2015). Hence, it is not surprising that only the indigenous communities lack safe and clean water for consumption.
Implications of federalism on water distribution are another evidence of how the indigenous communities have been treated unfairly as far as the availability of clean water is concerned. In Canada, federalism refers to the division of power between the federal and provincial governments, a form of a political system that makes it hard to ensure that the environment is kept safe from harm (Wakefield & Longboat, 2022). That is because there is constant overlapping of power. The jurisdiction is often considered vague, making it hard to determine which government is responsible for resolving the water crisis among the indigenous communities in Canada (Lam et al., 2017). Despite that, most of the time, water quality in Canada is good; at times, there are exceptions, especially in the indigenous reserves. A study conducted by Hanrahan & Jnr (2017) concluded that nearly 75% percent of available water posed health risks to consumers. These figures have been this high because water management in Canada has not been easy. One of the reasons it has been hard to deal with the water crisis among the indigenous communities is that both the federal and the provincial governments have jurisdiction regarding water (Sarkar et al., 2015). For instance, even though water reserves were created under the federal government, their allocations are under provincial jurisdiction, which makes it the province's responsibility to ensure that clean and safe water is distributed fairly among different communities in the country. However, provincial administrations have intentionally denied indigenous communities reserves water or reduced water availability to others.
The indigenous communities have had to sign various treaties and form alliances with the government to be allowed to enjoy certain rights. One of the rights that the indigenous people should enjoy based on these treaties is the allocation of clean water. Nonetheless, many provinces have deliberately refused to honour the agreement, which makes water allocation a pressing issue among the indigenous communities (Sarkar et al., 2015). Federalism seems to play a huge role in the water crisis experienced among indigenous communities considering that it disregards the treatment of available water that has resulted in its contamination in the first place (Hanrahan & Jnr, 2017). That means if sourcing and installation of pipes were done properly, ensuring that water was treated before it was pumped to different locations, the Kashechewan community, among other indigenous communities, would not be undergoing the water crisis today.
In conclusion, the indigenous communities in Canada have been disproportionately affected by the water crisis for many decades. Different factors such as environmental racism, lack of strong regulations to help protect water sources, and impacts of federalism on water distribution are to blame for contamination of water and failure on the side of the country to work on improving the issue. Despite that, there has been a public outcry on the water crisis problem for quite some time, and numerous steps have been taken towards resolving it by addressing the problem on reserves; the problem persists to date. Additionally, the Canadian government has spent a considerable amount of money to protect indigenous communities from health-related problems associated with consuming contaminated water. Water safety continues to be a growing concern. Every citizen has a right to safe drinking water, and no one should be discriminated against based on where they come from or their ethnic background when national resources are being distributed. Due to geography, chronic underfunding, and past government policies, drinking water has been hard to come.
Bradford, L. E., Ovsenek, N., & Bharadwaj, L. A. (2017). Indigenizing water governance in Canada. In Water policy and governance in Canada (pp. 269-298). Springer, Cham.
Dhillon, C., & Young, M. G. (2010). Environmental racism and First Nations: A call for socially just public policy development. Canadian Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 1(1), 25-39.
Hanrahan, M., & Jnr, B. D. (2017). The rocky path to source water protection: a cross-case analysis of drinking water crises in small communities in Canada. Water, 9(6), 388.
Lam, S., Cunsolo, A., Sawatzky, A., Ford, J., & Harper, S. L. (2017). How does the media portray drinking water security in Indigenous communities in Canada? An analysis of Canadian newspaper coverage from 2000-2015. BMC Public Health, 17(1), 1-14.
Sarkar, A., Hanrahan, M., & Hudson, A. (2015). Water insecurity in Canadian Indigenous communities: some inconvenient truths. Rural and remote health, 15(4), 181-193.
Wakefield, J., & Longboat, S. (2022). Water Sharing Between First Nations and Municipalities in Ontario: Learning from Community Experiences. Rural Review: Ontario Rural Planning, Development, and Policy, 6(1).
Wilson, N. J. (2019). “Seeing Water Like a State?”: Indigenous water governance through Yukon First Nation Self-Government Agreements. Geoforum, 104, 101-113.
Wilson, N. J. (2014). Indigenous water governance: Insights from the hydrosocial relations of the Koyukon Athabascan village of Ruby, Alaska. Geoforum, 57, 1-11.
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