The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is welcoming the introduction of proposed drinking water legislation for First Nations.

However, while the FSIN welcomed the legislation, specifically the extension of water protections to First Nations, they as well raised some concerns. One area of concern is around funding of drinking water infrastructure on First Nations.

“The fact that under this bill First Nations will still have to negotiate basic things like maintenance funding and distribution pipes to homes is concerning and makes it difficult not to view this intentional omission as another empty promise,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron.

Another concerns which the federation raised was that the legislation would allow the federal government and the provinces to make agreements that relate to source water which impacts First Nations without having to get First Nations to sign off. The FSIN said the law mandates consultation but does not require First Nations approval.

The FSIN said there are also issues with how the legislation was drafted, specifically that it was drafted by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) without input from First Nations.

Cameron said the FSIN has been given a mandate by their membership to look at creating their own water law and added the currently proposed federal legislation is not acceptable.

“As it stands, the federal water act announced today is not true reconciliation, it is an attempt to legalize the status quo,” he said.