Hundreds of Winnipeg walkers call for clean drinking water on First Nations
Student-led demonstration walks from city hall to Manitoba Legislature
Over a thousand people poured into the streets of downtown Winnipeg Friday to bring attention to the dozens of First Nations across Canada currently under boil water advisories.
Roughly 1,100 people, including more than 800 students from the Seven Oaks School Division, took part, organizers estimate.
Carrying signs, the demonstrators walked from city hall down Main Street to Portage Avenue, and then up Memorial Boulevard, before ending at the Manitoba Legislative Building.
Eric Jasysyn helped organize the walk and hoped to get the attention of politicians.
"The Indigenous communities have been suffering for so long and it's time to start seeing change," said Jasysyn, a Grade 12 student from Seven Oaks Met School.
"We want to make sure everyone understands that water is a basic human right and everyone deserves access to clean water."
Jasysyn points specifically to the situation at Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, which provides Winnipeg with its drinking water, yet doesn't have a water treatment facility and has been under a years-long boil water advisory.
"It is time to start seeing change and it's time to start getting them the water that they deserve," he said.
"We want to start getting people hearing our voices."
According to Indigenous Services Canada, 57 First Nations across Canada were under long-term drinking water advisories, including four in Manitoba, as of April 27.
Indigenous Services Canada has set a date of March 2021 to have all long-term water advisories lifted on Canadian First Nations, and says 85 of the advisories have been lifted since November 2015.
Seven Oaks Met School teacher David Law said Friday's walk was completely organized by students.
"I think it's a really important issue for everyone to know about," said Law.
"There are communities across Canada that don't have access to clean drinking water — that's a big problem."
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