Neskantaga First Nation issues state of emergency after evacuation request denied
Request sought after water pumps broke down, according to statement
The Neskantaga First Nation issued a state of emergency on Saturday after it said a request for emergency evacuations due to broken down water infrastructure was denied by Indigenous Services Canada.
The community in northwestern Ontario experienced a break down of its water pump and backup water pump on Thursday which led to contaminated and unfiltered water in the community taps, according to a statement released Saturday by the Neskantaga First Nation. The community's school has also been closed for the time being.
An emergency evacuation request made to Indigenous Services Canada on Saturday morning for 188 residents most directly affected was denied, according to the statement, leading to the state of emergency declaration.
Chief Chris Moonias said in the statement: "This continued water crisis goes beyond boiling contaminated water — the bigger issue is that peoples' basic fundamental human rights are being contravened and continually ignored."
Kevin Deagle, press secretary for Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O'Regan, told CBC News in an email on Sunday that O'Regan has spoken with Moonias and "expressed our firm commitment to resolving this issue and ensuring access to clean water for Neskantaga First Nation."
Deagle said technicians will arrive in the community on Monday to work on urgent repairs, and that bottled water is being provided to the community in the interim.
The Neskantaga First Nation — about 450 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, Ont. — has been under a boil water advisory and has been without access to safe tap water since 1995.