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First Nation says running water must be restored 24/7 before evacuees can return

The chief and council of a First Nation in a remote part of northwestern Ontario say they won’t be sending evacuees home until the community has access to running water 24/7. 

The condition is among a list of “minimum demands” that leadership of Neskantaga First Nation sent to Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller. 

The community, which has been under a boil water advisory for 25 years, was partially evacuated this week after Chief Christopher Moonias said an “oily sheen” was discovered in the water reservoir, prompting officials to shut off the pipes while tests are completed in southern Ontario. 

But even before the pipes were shut down, Moonias has said, the water had to be turned off overnight due to leaks depleting the water supply. 

Moonias is also demanding that homes have their water-related hardware repaired, and that two mobile membrane water treatment units be installed immediately to increase access to clean drinking water.

Representatives from Miller’s office have said they’re working to ensure Neskantaga’s needs are met, but did not immediately comment on the list of demands. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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