By Brent Patterson
January 13, 2015 – The St’at’imc at Tsal’alh, located along the shores of Seton and Anderson lakes, are situated in St’at’imc territory in south-western British Columbia. They have a membership of 720 people with approximately 320 members who live on reserve.
Last night Tsal’alh became the first Indigenous community to become a blue community.
Community member (and Council of Canadians Board member, pictured right) Garry John tells us, “Brothers and sisters it is my great honour to make it known to you that on January 12th, 2015 the Tsal’alhmec blue Indigenous community was adopted in its entirety.”
He adds, “This action upholds positions taken by our ancestors and makes sure our children and grandchildren know that we take our responsibility to keep water pure and free in all respects.”
The resolution adopted last night resolves that:
- Tsal’alh opposes privatization in any form of water and wastewater treatment services, including through P3’s, and commits to keep these services community owned, operated and delivered;
- the Tsal’alhmec call upon the federal government to allocate $4.7 billion to water and wastewater infrastructure in indigenous communities, as called for by the National Engineering Assessment, and make adequate funding available without the condition of a P3 agreement;
- bottled water will not be sold at any community facilities or community events in Tsal’alh where potable water is available;
- Tsal’alh will forward this resolution to the Assembly of First Nations for circulation to all First Nations;
- Tsal’alh will call on the federal and provincial governments to enshrine water as a human right in federal and provincial law;
- Tsal’alh will call on the Government of Canada to develop a national plan of action to implement the human right to water.
In taking this action, Tsal’alh joins fifteen blue communities in Canada and three blue communities in Switzerland and Brazil. It is hoped that by endorsing this resolution Tsal’alh will inspire other Indigenous communities and First Nations on Turtle Island to also become blue communities.
As of November 2014, there were 127 First Nation communities in Canada under a drinking water advisory. These advisories are issued to protect people from contaminants that are known to be, or could be, in the water. They are issued when tests show high disease-causing bacteria levels or cloudiness in the water. At any given time, there are more than one hundred Indigenous communities in Canada under water advisories, some of whom have been without clean drinking water for up to fifteen years.
A film was made on this the Tsal’alh. This is the trailer for that production: