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Result in sight for long-delayed water law – Canada’s National Observer

by ahnationtalk on June 11, 202421 Views

June 11th 2024

Ottawa is one step closer to awarding First Nations control and power over their water supply as a First Nations water bill is headed to committee this Wednesday.

Last week, Bill C-61, the First Nations Clean Water Act, was passed by the House through a unanimous motion and is now destined for the Indigenous and Northern Affairs committee. Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services, was enthusiastic about the “happy news” following what she referred to as “obstruction” from the Conservative caucus.

Hajdu has repeatedly referred to the bill as “another tool” for First Nations to have sovereignty over their waters, empowering them to fight against environmental racism. It is a legacy bill for the Liberal government and sits alongside their promise to lift all boiled water advisories on First Nations. Since 2015, 144 boiled water advisories have been lifted, with 29 still in effect.

The bill proposes a new water commission to be run by First Nations and funded by Ottawa. The commission will help increase capacity so that all First Nations can monitor their water for pollution and safety.

The bill will also mandate that Ottawa, as well as the provinces and territories, ensure stronger protections for bodies of water that feed into First Nations’ lands and that First Nations have the same water quality rights as Canadian municipalities.

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