TENSIONS BOILING FOR 17 YEARS
Group hopes to get locals thinking on disparity, responsibility
Althea Guiboche and her daughters Aralyn, 5, right, and Jaxtynne, 3, were among a handful of protesters handing out bottled water in downtown Winnipeg on Thursday to bring awareness to the length of time Shoal Lake No. 40 has been under a boil-water advisory.
A group is using Winnipeg’s boil-water advisory to highlight the ongoing struggles of the First Nation that supplies the city with its drinking water.
Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, which sends water to Winnipeg through an aqueduct, has been under a boil-water advisory for 17 years. Chuck Wright said it’s time Winnipeg residents learned more about the cost of their drinking water.
“I really hope that the inconvenience of only a day and a half of an E. coli scare ... will create more empathy for the many, many First Nations ... that have been under boilwater advisories and without adequate drinking water for so many years,” he said.
Wright and a few others handed out water bottles plastered with the label “Boil Water Advisory Day Count — Winnipeg: 1.5, Shoal Lake 40: 6,205+” on Thursday in downtown Winnipeg to raise awareness about the reserve.
Winnipeg’s boil advisory was issued on Tuesday after routine testing found coliform and E. coli at extremely low levels in six of 39 water samples. The advisory was lifted Thursday afternoon after secondary tests came back negative.
Shoal Lake, on the Ontario-Manitoba boundary, was flooded and essentially made into an island so Winnipeg could tap its water. For years, the community has lived under a boil-water advisory while calling for the construction of an all-weather road.
“While clean drinking water is still ... in the public mind, we wanted to come out and remind Winnipeggers of this disparity,” Wright said. “We hope ... people will contemplate more where their water comes from and what our responsibility is through our relationship to Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.”
Stéphane Doucet holds out one of the bottles of water he and others handed out in downtown Winnipeg on Thursday to raise awareness about Shoal Lake 40’s boil- water advisory, which has been ongoing for 17 years.