Man 'shocked' by First Nations water crisis travelling across Canada to raise awareness

One man is travelling from Vancouver to Ottawa to raise awareness about access to safe drinking water in a place he never thought it would be an issue: Canada.

17 communities in Sask. currently dealing with water advisories

Hasan Syed is travelling across Canada to raise awareness about water issues facing First Nations communities across the country. (Access 2 Clean Water/Facebook)

One man is travelling from Vancouver to Ottawa to raise awareness about access to safe drinking water in a place he never thought it would be an issue: Canada.

According to a Government of Canada website, there are more than 100 long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations communities across Canada. Seventeen communities in Saskatchewan are currently dealing with water advisories.

Hasan Syed hopes that through his efforts he can help ensure every community in Canada has access to safe drinking water.

'I always viewed Canada as a safe haven'

Syed moved with his family to Canada from Pakistan when he was 10 years old, and he has firsthand experience of not having access to clean water. 

I was shocked to learn that many of our citizens don't have access to this very basic human need.- Hasan Syed

"I remember my mother boiling water and carrying it in a big pot for us to use as drinking water," said Syed of life before moving to Canada.

That's why, in his last year of studying nursing, Syed was shocked to learn that people struggle to access clean drinking water across Canada as well.

"I always viewed Canada as a safe haven, a developed nation for all," said Syed. "I was shocked to learn that many of our citizens don't have access to this very basic human need."

The discovery ignited a passion in Syed, and he felt compelled to do something about it.  

Challenged by run

Syed started his journey in April and planned to run 150 days to commemorate Canada's 150th birthday, but the journey is more difficult that he imagined. 

Due to time and budget constraints, Syed has recently decided to drive between cities and run the appropriate number of kilometres within those cities. He tells CBC he continues to run on the highway when he has a driver for his support vehicle. He intends to run the distance from Vancouver to Ottawa.

He anticipates he'll reach the end of his journey in October.

Syed will be speaking about his journey at Wesley United Church in Regina at 7 p.m. CST on Tuesday.

Hasan Syed says the journey across Canada has been difficult so far. (Access 2 Clean Water/Facebook)

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story stated Hasan Syed is running across Canada. Due to time and budget constraints, Syed has recently decided to drive between cities and cover his kilometres by running around the community instead.
    Jun 27, 2017 4:39 PM CT

With files from CBC Radio's Morning Edition