In an article from CBC written in 2018, only approximately 9% of folks living on the reserve have access to clean water, and a large percentage do not even have running water in their homes. Nearly 80 First Nations communities are currently under long-term water advisories, and our Government continues to ignore the needs of the indigenous community members.
At Grenfell, Our Overdose Prevention Line is run by a volunteer coordinator, Nik Bellamy, a two-spirited indigenous member of the Oneida of Thames Band and Iroquois part of the six nations confederacy. Nik has years of lived experience with mental health and substance use and is a former forensic psychiatry patient who received their absolute discharge in 2018.
They have been enrolled in full-time studies at Mohawk College since January of 2015. They have brought twenty-five years of experience as an activist for numerous social justice causes to the Grenfell team. Nik decided that the water situation happening only a 30-minute drive from Hamilton needed to be rectified. They approached the Grenfell Ministries Board of Directors with the idea that we could do something to help this situation. Nik then applied for and was granted The Reaching for Power Project for Women And Non-Binary BIPOC To Learn Leadership Skills, in conjunction with the city of Hamilton and Nrinder Nann. With the grant they received, they opted to find a way to assist their community with the water crisis that they experience every day.
Today, Grenfell Ministries, through donations from the dollhouse Collective Inc., Nik Bellamy’s grants and efforts, and the proceeds of The Great Tea Off – were able to purchase a LifeStraw water filter for the Six Nations Birthing Center; as well as life straws to be given to new Mom’s and babies to take home.
The LifeStraw water filter we purchased can serve up to 85 – 170 people a day and produces up to 13.3 liters per hour. The LifeStraw Straw filters are typically designed for outdoor sports, survival, and emergencies; it makes contaminated water safe to drink and can filter up to 4,000 liters of water.
We recognize that our efforts do not amend the centuries of harm inflicted on indigenous communities through colonialism by the Canadian state.
The Canadian Government and our communities need to do better in respecting indigenous sovereignty and sharing resources as stipulated in countless treaties such as the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, which was an agreement between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabek to share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. Land acknowledgements mean nothing if Canadians do not respect indigenous communities’ human rights. – We believe solidarity is an action word and advocate for our Government to address the water crisis on Indigenous land.
Please visit their website to see the service they provide http://www.snhs.ca/BirthingCentre.htm
Thank you to the Birthing Center for having us out and allowing us the great opportunity!
To donate to the purchase of more life straws for this project please visit our website at www.grenfellministries.org or use the QR code below.