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Assembly of First Nations, Polaris Institute and Canadian Labour Congress

From May 22, 2008

Today Phil Fontaine, the National Chief of the AFN, Tony Clarke, the Executive Director of Polaris Institute and the Canadian Labour Congress released a publication on the water crisis facing First Nation communities in Canada. Boiling Point, written by the Polaris Institute, showcases six First Nation communities that have and continue to face water crises including contaminated source, well and tap water and long-standing boil water advisories.

“The crisis in our communities is untenable,” National Chief Phil Fontaine noted. “In a country like Canada – that has the most fresh water in the world – to have First Nation communities struggle on a daily basis to provide their citizens with healthy water for drinking and clean water for bathing is completely unacceptable.”

“The shocking and deplorable conditions of First Nation communities being denied access to safe, clean drinking water is similar to what I have witnessed myself in Mexico, India, South Africa and other Third World countries,” said Tony Clarke of the Polaris Institute and author of several books on water. “Water is a basic human right and Boiling Point should be a wake-up call for people across Canada to demand concerted action from our governments now.”

Hassan Yussuff, Secretary Treasurer for the Canadian Labour Congress commented, “Canadians expect a swift response anytime they face a boil water advisory of the public water system, yet nearly 100 First Nation communities live with these advisories on a daily basis, and in some cases endure tainted, polluted and utterly undrinkable water for years—this is nothing less than a fundamental violation of what should be a basic human right.”

Boiling Point provides a critical review of the ongoing lack of progress and action on the part of government in providing safe drinking water to First Nation communities. The six profiles are only a small sample of the ongoing struggles many First Nation communities face in Canada. The Polaris Institute and the Canadian Labour Congress join the Assembly of First Nations in challenging the federal government to implement long-term solutions based on equality and respect to ensure access to safe drinking water, source water and sanitation.

The document is available from the AFN and Polaris as well as on their respective websites.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

The Polaris Institute works with citizen and social movements in developing new tools and strategies for changing public policies on water and other issues.

The Canadian Labour Congress is the largest democratic and popular organization in Canada with over three million members. The Canadian Labour Congress brings together Canada’s national and international unions, the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 136 district labour councils.

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