A community in northern Saskatchewan is declaring a state of emergency due to a lack of water.
In a media release sent out Thursday the Northern Village of Cumberland House along with Cumberland House Cree Nation and Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) said the community’s reservoir currently only has enough water in it to last for four weeks. The release added this is especially concerning with winter not far off.
Veronica Favel, the acting mayor for the Northern Village of Cumberland House laid the blame for the situation at the feet of a number of provincial entities, including the government.
“This ongoing situation we are facing is a result of complete negligence of SaskPower, Water Security Agency (WSA) and the Saskatchewan government.” she said.
The acting mayor said besides people in the community not having access to fresh water other environmental impacts are being felt which are impacting wildlife in the area and the ability of people to gather traditional medicines.
Cumberland House Cree Nation Chief Rene Chaboyer said the current water situation is concerning for the First Nation as it is impacting their rights to fish and gather along with threatening their access to secure and reliable water. The Cumberland House Cree Nation Chief pointed to the current operations of SaskPower’s E.B. Campbell Dam as being partially responsible for the current situation. Chaboyer explained the water situation shows the importance of Indigenous people being part of the decision making process on major issues.
“The Nation’s struggle for access to water is a stark reminder of the urgent need for the co-development of sustainable water management policies, informed by local Indigenous knowledge,” he said.
Along with being concerned about the wellbeing of the First Nation’s membership, Chaboyer said the Saskatchewan River Delta is important in the the big picture for the planet.
“The health of the Cumberland House area is critically important to local and global ecosystems,” he said.
Representatives of the northern village, Cumberland House Cree Nation and the MN-S are currently talking with a range of organizations, including SaskPower and the WSA to find solutions to the water problem.