Wednesday, 5 December 2012

First Nation Water Rights at the Centre for Human Rights Research

Journalist Helen Fallding discusses the crises facing First Nation communities in Canada about lack of safe and reliable drinking water. too many communities do not have running water and must get it old style from the lake or river. This lack of water when surrounded by lakes causes health problems and issues because people are unable to bathe properly. These situations are especially egregious for families with young children. People become sick and ill and often it is possible to catch a skin disease. I discuss how some First Nations have pulp and paper mills which dump chemicals into the local water making for possible high cancer rates and death within a community. Helen talks about the new initiatives of the Centre for Human Rights Research as well as her work with water and her work as a journalist.

Helen Fallding is a lifelong human rights activist who ran women's centres at the University of Toronto and in Victoria, B.C., helped the Carcross Tagish First Nation negotiate a land claim and co-founded Yukon's first gay organisation. Her first job as a reporter was with Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon — the Beat of a Different Drummer. She joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1998, where she was Western Manitoba regional reporter, legislature bureau chief and then science reporter before becoming assistant city editor. Helen has won awards for feminist activism and for journalism, most recently for a series of stories about lack of running water on Manitoba First Nations, published shortly before she joined the University of Manitoba and the Centre for Human Rights Research as it manager.

To Learn more Interview (Podcast):

Ouellette, Robert-Falcon. (Director) (2012, Dec 05). At the Edge of Canada: Indigenous Research. First Nation Water Rights at the Centre for Human Rights Research with Helen Fallding. [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from
Ouellette, Robert-Falcon, dir. "First Nation Water Rights at the Centre for Human Rights Research with Helen Fallding." At the Edge of Canada: Indigenous Research.. N.p., 05 2012. web. 5 Dec 2012. < >.


  1. I remember as a Young Teen drinking Icy Cold water that was coming out of the ground on a Hot Summers Day near Gabriel's Crossing.

  2. That must be Gabriel Crossing near Batoche where Gabriel Dumont had a ferry service he was running in 1872.

  3. Kamila Cecelon
    Response to: First Nation Water Rights at the Centre for Human Rights Research

    Water is notably considered to be the elixir of life. One of the most perverse concepts in my mind is the inability to access clean drinking water, especially on a continent that we consider to be “first world". The idea of not being able to access clean drinking water is a crime against humanity, when so many people dwindle and waste such a precious resource. This just illustrates the wide discrepancy between aboriginals and non aboriginal resources yet again, and the blatant disregard towards those living on reserves in North America and the proximity of high risk drinking water that they’re located near. According to the assembly of first nations, honoring water as a resource is:

    Water is the most life sustaining gift on Mother Earth and is the interconnection among all living beings. Water sustains us, flows between us, within us, and replenishes us. Water is the blood of Mother Earth and, as such, cleanses not only her, but all living things. Water comes in many forms and all are needed for the health of Mother Earth and for our health. The sacred water element teaches us that we can have great strength to transform even the tallest mountain while being soft, pliable, and flexible. Water gives us the spiritual teaching that we too flow into the Great Ocean at the end of our life journey. Water shapes the land and gives us the great gifts of the rivers, lakes, ice, and oceans. Water is the home of many living things that contribute to the health and well-being of everything not in the water.

    It upsets me to hear what is happening on Canadian land. I can recall one hiking trip I took through Mountain Riding National Park in Manitoba for four days, and the aspect of filtering dirty stream water in order stay hydrated. Now, to picture everyday life involving dirty drinking water is simply deplorable, and insults everyone in Canada.
    In many regions, First Nations live with insufficient water allocations and infringements on their Aboriginal and Treaty Rights to water. It’s deplorable for people, of any race or ethnicity to live in such conditions in a country so rich of resources. Under Stephen Harper, 116 First Nations continue to endure Drinking Water Advisories, which represents almost 20% of the First Nations communities in Canada. It is time to urge Stephen Harpers lack of communication and anti democratic to change, with the facilitation of Theresa Spence's movement.