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Imagine not being able to turn on the tap to get a glass of clean drinking water. Imagine sending your kids to school with dirty clothes and unwashed bodies because the water isn’t safe to wash in. Imagine purchasing water year after year to make a cup of tea in your home.

This is the reality for more than 100 First Nations in Canada. Many communities have faced these conditions for years, or even decades. As Canadians committed to reconciliation, we must work together to redress such a grave injustice in Canada. Everyone in Canada has a right to clean drinking water.

The federal government promised to end drinking water advisories in First Nations within five years of being elected. In response, a coalition of organizations led by the David Suzuki Foundation has begun monitoring federal progress toward ensuring clean water. We started with First Nations in Ontario, the province with the highest number of advisories. This year we evaluated steps that the federal government is taking to end drinking water advisories, and we found stories of First Nations leadership in resolving their communities’ drinking water crises.

Our research shows the government has taken some steps, but not the strides needed to fulfil its commitment. Together we can ensure the federal government lives up to its promise to end long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations communities by 2021. We can show the provinces that they have an important role to play as well.

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