Members of Neskantaga First Nation staging a sit-in at Queens Park to protest ongoing water crisis
QUEEN’S PARK — Members of Neskantaga First Nation are staging a sit-in at Queen’s Park to demand Doug Ford stop ignoring the people of Neskantaga, and provide critical, life-saving support to meet the ongoing public health crisis they are facing.
Sol Mamakwa, MPP for Kiiwetinoong and NDP Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation critic, hosted Neskantaga community members Lawrence Sakanee and Alex Moonias for a Tuesday morning press conference. Neskantaga Chief Chris Moonias joined via Zoom, along with community members Renita Moonias and Marilyn Waswa. Both Sakanee and Alex Moonias traveled over 1,100 km to Queen’s Park to call on the Ford government to bring running water back to their community, now.
“Water is a basic human right, but the Ford government keeps ignoring the apartheid system of clean water access for First Nations people in Ontario,” said Mamakwa. “Every Ontarian knows Doug Ford would never neglect and dismiss a community like Etobicoke North this way.
“Every day Doug Ford does nothing to fix this crisis is another day he makes the shameful choice to put the health and lives of Neskantaga’s community members at risk.”
Neskantaga has been under a boil advisory for over 25 years. Over two weeks ago, dangerous hydrocarbons were found in the local water reservoir, forcing the evacuation of the entire community. The Ford government has so far taken no action to help the community or the 230 people who live there.
In fact, Doug Ford slashed 80 per cent of the budget for Ontario’s Indigenous Drinking Water Program, walking away from any potential efforts to invest in infrastructure for clean drinking water in Neskantaga and other First Nations that need it.
Chief Christopher Moonias, Neskantaga First Nation
"Our people are getting tired and frustrated. We are denied the basic human right of access to clean water. We fully support our members who have traveled to Queen’s Park to hold the Provincial Government responsible for their part in what our community is facing. Fix our water."
Renita Moonias, Neskantaga First Nation
"I have two children, who are 1 and 3. It is painful to keep going through this, for me and for them. I don’t want them to grow up without clean drinking water. I don’t want them to have to bathe in the dangerous water back home. They deserve clean water. All the children in Neskantaga deserve clean water.”
Marilyn Waswa, Neskantaga First Nation
"On January 9, we needed to bathe, so I went to get water at the water treatment facility with my two youngest children, who are 7 and 9. When we returned, my 7 year old found her sister in the closet. She had taken her life. Now, my youngest are 11 and 15. I don’t know what answers to give them anymore. The water crisis reminds me every day how I lost my child and will never see her again. We need clean water.”