Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse (Manitoba) Calls for Support of First Nations-Led Water Priorities and Realizing the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water

Press Release

OTTAWA, March 29, 2023 — Assembly of First Nations’ Manitoba Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse spoke at the United Nations Water Conference, taking place in New York, to highlight the rights of First Nations in any action on water governance and the need for intensified action to realize the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation for all Indigenous peoples.

“First Nations work hard to uphold our inherent responsibilities as caretakers of water. Water is a sacred part of our way of life and is central to our health and livelihoods,” said Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse. “First Nations’ responsibilities to water, and our rights as peoples with the right to self-determination, and sacred Treaty rights, include all aspects of water use, jurisdiction, and stewardship as well as water governance over drinking water and sanitation.”

“For us, water is life, and we mean that for everybody, not simply for First Nations. We know water security requires a much greater global commitment. The UN Water Action Plan should protect all water and emphasize that clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right for all and specifically mention the situation of Indigenous peoples,” says Chief Woodhouse.

As of February 2023, 32 First Nations are still under long-term boil water advisories, down from 105 in 2015. Many First Nations also face repeated short term boil water advisories.

“No First Nation should be left behind. While there have been efforts to end long-term boil water advisories in First Nations in Canada,” says Regional Chief Woodhouse. “We have not yet met the goal of ‘zero.‘ In addition, many First Nations experience shorter-term boil water advisories that are lifted and re-instated time and time again. The fundamental human rights of all Indigenous peoples to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation and broader water security must be protected, respected and implemented fully.”

In her interventions today, Regional Chief Woodhouse said at this mid-point of the UN Water Decade, it is time for a specific and intensified call to action on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation and Indigenous peoples. She pointed to the ongoing dialogue at the annual UN Forum on Sustainable Development and the the next (annual) UN General Assembly Resolution on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

About Chief Cindy Woodhouse

Regional Chief Woodhouse is a member of Pinaymootang First Nation. First Nation values are very important for Chief Woodhouse, which were passed down to her from her parents and grandmother. Regional Chief Woodhouse is proud to have learned the traditional ways of her people from her family. Through spending time with her grandmother, Chief Woodhouse learned her Anishinabe language and prayer. Chief Woodhouse is no stranger to the commitments and tenacity required for strong leadership. Chief Woodhouse comes from a long line of leaders. Her Parents and Grandparents held leadership roles, and her ancestor Chief Richard Woodhouse was an original signatory of Treaty 2 ratified on August 21, 1871. Chief Woodhouse’s family trained her at a very young age how to be an effective leader, while respecting her people’s history, culture, and traditions. Topics such as advocating for Treaty implementation and educational achievement were ongoing discussions in her household. Through these experiences Chief Woodhouse had a clear understanding that her own educational achievement would be needed as an effective tool to successfully represent her people. Chief Woodhouse earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Winnipeg, while also recently completing Harvard Business School’s Leading People and Investing to Build Sustainable Communities Program.

Media Contact:
Neetisha Seenundun


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