‘Agreement is coming’: Oneida Nation of the Thames to announce water deal with Government of Canada
Oneida Nation of the Thames First Nation (ONTFN) has been under a boil water advisory since 2019.
However, the first steps in the slow process of changing that are expected shortly.
“There is an agreement coming, it's just at the table now,” said ONTFN Chief Todd Cornelius. “We're expecting to inform our community soon of the agreement.”
Cornelius was tight lipped about the timeline, but CTV News has learned an announcement is imminent.
Local Members of Parliament (MP) have been working on bringing clean drinking water and adequate fire flow to the community.
“This has been a lead issue for me in the past few months,” said Peter Fragiskatos, London, Ont. North Centre MP. “I've joined with other MP’s like Karen Vecchio to advance the issue. They deserve clean water like any person does”.
Not only have residents had to boil their water for four years, but just months ago, they were under a conserve water advisory. They were told to only use bottled water.
“A lot of the times it's just having trouble just turning the taps to have a shower,” said Cornelius.
“It's a daily thing around here which we're used to having a bottle of water. Another thing is a lot of the youth in our community have not seen clean drinking water,” he added.
On world water day, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated, “The Government of Canada continues to work on ending all long-term drinking water advisories.”
“There's over 130 boil water advisories that have been lifted by this government since 2015,” said Fragiskatos. “There are 30-plus communities that unfortunately still have a boil water advisory in place, and the government is seized with reversing that entirely.”
In January of this year, ONTFN councillor Brandon Doxtator told CTV he hopes they'll ultimately land a 20-year deal with Indigenous Services Canada and the water tribunal. It would have ONTFN tap into the Lake Huron water supply system.
“This is a cost of $54 million dollars,” said Doxtator. “We're looking at how that's going to be funded through the government.”
Fragiskatos said he understands through his advocacy, what this means to the region.
“Certainly to Oneida but I also know what it means to Londoners who care very deeply about reconciliation,” said Fragiskatos. “I won't stop. We have to get this done.”
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