Government and First Nations Works to end Drinking Water Advisory at Neskantaga First Nation

July 27, 2017  – Ottawa, ON –  Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

Everyone in Canada should have access to safe, clean, and reliable drinking water. Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, along with Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Chief Wayne Moonias, Neskantaga First Nation announced new investments that will lift the long-term drinking water advisory (DWA) in Neskantaga First Nation.

The Government of Canada will invest approximately $8.8 million to help upgrade the community’s water treatment system, including an addition to the existing water plant with new treatment technology and additional reservoir storage capacity to meet the community’s long-term needs, enabling more than 340 residents to access clean water for the first time in more than 22 years.

The project, expected to be complete in late spring 2018, is part of Canada’s commitment of $1.8 billion to improve water infrastructure and strengthen Indigenous communities.


“Congratulations to Neskantaga First Nation and Matawa Tribal Council for your leadership on this project that will end the 22 year drinking water advisory in this First Nation community. This accomplishment is worth celebrating and is also an example of what can be accomplished when we work in true partnership. Investing in water systems like the one at Neskantaga First Nation represents one more step in renewing our relationship with First Nations and reaffirms our commitment to end all long-term drinking water advisories affecting on-reserve public systems financially supported by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

“Neskantaga First Nation has been without clean drinking water for more than two decades, and we are pleased that funding has finally been approved. The community has overcome many challenges to secure much-needed upgrades that will provide a reliable supply of safe water. The approval of this project is a strong signal of this government’s commitment to eliminating all First Nation drinking water advisories, and we hope that investment in vital community infrastructure continues across NAN territory.”

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler
Nishnawbe Aski Nation

“For more than 20 years we haven’t been able to drink water from our taps or bathe without getting rashes. Water is a basic human right, and it should not have taken this long to provide the people of Neskantaga with access to safe drinking water. Our members drove this process, including the visit by the Hon. Carolyn Bennett in 2016, that made this a priority for the government, and we thank them for opening their homes. This has been a long and difficult process and has demonstrated the resolve of our members. We also appreciate the efforts of everyone who brought attention to this issue over the years.  We are one step closer to ending the water advisory, but there is much more work to be done. We hope that work gets underway immediately.”

Chief Wayne Moonias
Neskantaga First Nation

Quick Facts

  • As part of its long-term strategy, the Government of Canada is working with First Nations on sustainable approaches to eliminate long-term drinking water advisories by March 2021, and to prevent new long-term advisories from happening.
  • Budget 2016 provides $1.8 billion over five years to significantly improve on-reserve water and wastewater infrastructure, ensure proper facility operation, maintenance, and support the training of water system operators, in addition to $141.7 million over five years to improve drinking water monitoring and testing on reserve.
  • Committing investments over five years allows for long-term planning to improve on-reserve water and wastewater systems.

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For more information, media may contact:

Sabrina Williams
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett

INAC Media Relations
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada


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