Canada’s First Nations Start Filing Claims for Historic Water Settlement

This story was originally published in Grist. You can subscribe to its weekly newsletter here.

First Nations in Canada have been denied drinking water for years. Many Indigenous communities are forced to deal with brown, sludgy drinking water. destructive health impactsIt brought. Some people have relied on bottled or boiling water for years. There were a total of 82,220 people in the world as of March 8, 2022. 23 short-term drinking water advisoriesThey are available all over the country and include boil water advisories as well as Do Not Consume warnings. The Canadian government will now have to pay for it.

Individuals and First Nations affected by dirty drinking water can now file claims through the First Nations Drinking Water SettlementA historic $8 billion (CAD), settlement of $6.2 billion U.S. was approved by Canadian courts in December. The settlement was triggered by class action lawsuits by the Tataskweyak Cree Nation and Curve Lake First Nation and Neskantaga First Nation. It could provide compensation for more than 250 First Nations as well as approximately 142,000 Indigenous people. Individuals and First Nations who were subject to a drinking-water advisory for at least one year, between 1995 and 2021 can file claims online to receive compensation from the settlement fund.

The settlement is being made amid a long and ongoing history of unsafe drinking water in Indigenous communities across Canada. A government study in 2015 found that 105 long term drinking water advisories were in effect in 67 communities. 128 long term drinking water advisories were lifted in 2015, but they are still in effect as of February 2015. 36 long-term advisories in 29 different Indigenous communities remain in effect. The First Nations that have been affected will receive at least $500,000 and can file claims until December. Individuals must file claims before March next year.

Doreen Spence, Chief Tataskweyak Cree Nation of Tataskweyak Cree Nation told the media after the settlement was made. CBC, “This is a historic moment for Tataskweyak Cree Nation and First Nations across the country. First Nations will be able to collaborate with Canada in a more meaningful manner and have access water standards on reserves that are unprecedented. We look forward to seeing the day where all First Nations have access to safe water, now and forever.”

In the United States, Indigenous communities have faced a long struggle for safe drinking waters for generations. According to the US Water AllianceIndigenous people are less likely have plumbing in their homes, and they have less access to clean drinking water than any other population in the country. While funding has been provided for Indigenous water infrastructure in various federal and state infrastructure projects, there has never been an equivalent settlement to the First Nations Drinking Water Settlement.

Additional $1.8 billion has been set aside for direct compensation the settlement$6 billion for funding water infrastructure projects in First Nations communities. The settlement also establishes a First Nations Advisory Committee on Safe Drinking Water. It also commits to supporting First Nations in developing their own clean water legislation.

The settlement follows the Canadian government announcing $40 billion (CAD) ($31.5 billion USD) to compensate residential school survivors and to improve social services for Indigenous children.