Sol Mamakwa MPP, Kiiwetinoong

Government of Ontario

Ford government puts beer before safe drinking water for First Nations: Mamakwa

Published on June 6, 2019

QUEEN’S PARK – While First Nations communities are asking the Ford government for clean drinking water, Ford and his Minister of Indigenous Affairs Greg Rickford are more interested in pushing beer, said Sol Mamakwa, NDP MPP for Kiiwetinoong.

“Neskantaga First Nation has been under a boil-water advisory since February 1, 1995. That’s over 20 years,” said Mamakwa, NDP critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “There are 13 First Nations communities with boil-water advisories in my riding as of today.

“ On Monday, the Minister of Indigenous Affairs said my Twitter statement on the issue of the beer bill versus access to clean water issue was an ‘unfortunate comment.’

“It’s these kinds of comments that are very unfortunate. I vow to continue to advocate for the people in Kiiwetinoong.

“Will Doug Ford direct his minister to apologize for his unfortunate comment to the people of Kiiwetinoong who do not have safe drinking water?”

Mamakwa said that despite living in one of the wealthiest regions in the world, those 13 First Nations communities in Kiiwetinoong cannot drink the water.

“In February 2019, I visited Neskantaga. I was told that 16-year-old Cora Atlookan had died by suicide days before. It is unfortunate that she lived her whole life with no access to clean drinking water other than bottled water,” said Mamakwa. “Young people in Neskantaga no longer trust the water even when they go to places with clean running water. They continue to buy bottled water.

“Access to clean drinking water is a human right. Currently my private members bill on UNDRIP is before the committee, but being stalled from third reading by this government.

“Given the minister’s comments, is he saying this government is not interested in upholding the human rights of Indigenous Peoples, yes or no?”

The Ford government provided no answers on providing safe drinking water for the 13 First Nations communities in Kiiwetinoong.