Like all communities, potable water is vital to daily life in the 134 First Nation communities of Ontario. Water is also spiritually significant to members of these communities and important to many cultural practices. Aboriginal knowledge, often overlooked as a science by the rest of the western world, continues to positively inform the attitudes and practices of Ontario First Peoples, including in their stewardship of the water resources they share with the rest of Ontario’s residents.
Unfortunately, First Nation governments in Ontario face extraordinary challenges in delivering potable water to their residents, and the state of water treatment facilities serving First Nation communities is poor. Because water treatment regulation in First Nation communities is a matter of federal jurisdiction, First Nations are jurisdictionally isolated from efforts being undertaken elsewhere within the province of Ontario to improve water quality standards. By comparison with Ontario, the federal policies and programs which dictate service levels to First Nation communities are outdated and poorly co-ordinated. Budget and personnel cuts to the federal civil service have exacerbated the problems.