Oneida Nation of the River Thames cancels water conservation alert, but officials say urgent action still needed

Officials of the Oneida Nation of the Thames have announced the cancellation of a water conservation alert in the First Nation, after a severe water shortage was first announced on December 16, followed of the declaration of the state of emergency on December 20.

The Oneida Nation, located just southwest of London, Ontario, initially declared a water conservation alert due to the effect of extreme weather conditions on the First Nation’s water supply. This has put residents under an order to limit water use with the community’s water tower water supply, the main source of water for the 546 homes and 22 buildings of the territory, at historically low levels.

“The water treatment plant staff have been closely monitoring the level of the source, and it has reached such a level that we can cancel the water conservation alert,” reads a statement. statement from officials. « We thank the community for their quick response and conservation efforts. »

It is not yet clear whether the official declaration of a state of emergency is still in effect.

Still, an official who spoke to CBC News said the community is under pressure, and while the cancellation of the water conservation alert bodes well, the more pressing issue has not. not yet been resolved.

“We always have an emergency because we always drink bottled water. Until the federal government takes action to improve our drinking water situation, we will still have an emergency water problem,” said Charity Doxtator, a band councilor who replaced acting chief of Oneida. at the time of the announcement.

Oneida has been under a boil water advisory since September 2019, with authorities citing poor water infrastructure as a major cause. Federal government intervention is seriously needed, Doxtator said.

“Aboriginal Affairs needs to get up and deal with this. There are so many other First Nations who are in the same boat as us,” Doxtator said. « Look at the millions of dollars they [send to] other countries right now. It’s very, very unfair. »

Earlier this month, Brandon Doxtator, a Band Councilor for the Oneida Nation, said Oneida had reached a tentative agreement to bring water into the community from Lake Huron. He said that would require help from the federal government.

Community aid, a band-aid solution

Janet Antone is a community member who has stepped up to help residents. She uses her Instagram page, which has just under 13,000 followers, as a platform to raise awareness and steer those wishing to donate in the right direction.

She has raised over $6,000 in donations to provide access to clean water for community members, with more money continuing to come in, spending the donated funds on things like water jugs, hand pumps for those who need them and bottom loading water coolers. for people with mobility problems.

« I was thinking, you know, I’m going to make about $500 and buy a few jugs of water, » Antone said. « I am stunned. »

The outpouring of community support shows a real desire for change, Antone said. She thinks this desire for change should also speak to politicians who can pressure the government to act.

« I’m really happy that [conserve water alert] is lifted, but the underlying issue itself has not been resolved. Donations are such a short-term solution when we really need to ask the government, ‘Why can this go on?' » she said.

Antone echoes Charity Doxtator’s sentiments that federal intervention and funding is needed to address the water problem that has plagued his community since 2019.

« I feel as helpless as everyone else, » Antone said.

While she and others in her community are asking for federal support and suggesting those outside of the community do the same, Antone says donations and social media shares to increase the reach of Donation information is always welcome and appreciated.

Monetary donations are accepted by e-Transfer and PayPal.

Physical donations of water are accepted at the Oneida Community Center.


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