Unreserved

Water: How Indigenous people are turning the tide

Depending where you live, clean water is something many of us take for granted. But that's not the reality for many Indigenous communities. It's a cause that continues to inspire artists, activists and entrepreneurs across the country, who are speaking out, and raising awareness.  
The federal government has committed to lifting all long-term drinking water advisories on reserves by March 2021. (CBC)
Listen to the full episode36:59

Depending where you live, clean water is something many of us take for granted. But that's not the reality for many Indigenous communities.

And while the federal government has committed to lifting all long-term drinking water advisories on reserves in the next two years, the work is slow, and costs billions of dollars. 

It's a cause that continues to inspire artists, activists and entrepreneurs across the country, who are speaking out, and raising awareness.  

Today on Unreserved: Indigenous people working to turn the tide.

After spending all of his life under a boil water advisory, Marcus Morin was part of the solution in Enoch Cree Nation as a junior water operator at their new water plant, ending a 25-year boil water advisory on the nation.

Autumn Peltier addressed the UN General Assembly on World Water Day when she was just 13. Her work as a water activist was inspired by her late, great Aunt Josephine Mandamin. Mandamin walked 17,000 km around the Great Lakes to advocate for water protection. This year, Peltier and Mandamin were awarded the Water Warrior Award at the Water Docs Film Festival in Toronto.

Sunshine Tenasco's first picture book, Nibi's Water Song, will be released by Scholastic in July. Illustrated by Chief Lady Bird, the book tells the story of a little girl who goes looking for a refreshing glass of water to drink. The story was inspired by Tenasco's home community of Kitigan Zibi, where 40 per cent of residents don't have clean drinking water. 

Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow's idea for Birch Bark Coffee is rooted in giving back. In fact for every bag of coffee sold, a portion of the proceeds helps buy one water purifier for an Indigenous family who needs it. 

Anishinaabe artist Barry Ace drew inspiration for his installation, The Five Great Lakes, from his family's boat trips from Manitoulin Island to the mainland on Lake Huron.

Arists Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch painted a mural at MacEwan University's Indigenous Centre in Edmonton. The bright blue painting shows the connection between motherhood, water and its protectors. The painting sits right in the heart of Alberta, or oil country. But as the two artists tell us, it makes their message all the more important.

This week's playlist
Kinnie Starr (Courtesy)

Jason Burnstick — Nika Mo
Kinnie Starr — Save Our Waters
Lloyd Cheechoo — James Bay
Mich Cota — Nibi