The Saskatchewan First Nation Water Association has been holding their first ever conference and AGM in Saskatoon this week.

Leonard Lewko, with the organizations board of directors, spoke with MBC Radio News about the conference, the organization’s goals, and some of the focuses for water treatment plant operators heading into the latter half of 2023.

Lewko says the most recent AGM was during the Covid-19 pandemic and held virtually, so he says he is happy to come together in person this time around as well as to hold the AGM with their first ever conference and trade show.

“We have had very good participation with about 150 to 200 people, so it is going very well,” he said.

Lewko hopes the conference can help get the word out to First Nation communities across the province about water issues facing First Nation communities. He also sees it as an opportunity to join all the water plant operators in one place.

As for the operators themselves, Lewko says a focus on the conference has been on training, salaries and industry standards.

“We are doing a salary survey on the last day, but we already know that salaries are too low for the water plant operators,” he said. “So that is one thing we are trying to push for is to get more funding for the operators.

The conference officially got underway on Monday with several keynote speakers planned throughout the three-day conference.

Lewko says the plan is to make it an annual gathering and says they want to now determine whether to keep holding it in Saskatoon or to move it around the province.

(PHOTO – Leonard Lewko.  Photo by Joel Willick.)