Yesterday evening, Iqalummiut were advised of a “do not consume” water advisory due to the possibility of petroleum hydrocarbons at the Iqaluit water treatment plant. Iqalummiut have been advised to not drink or cook with tap water for the foreseeable future. While we await testing results that are set to be announced in five business days, some residents have taken to collecting water from Iqaluit Kuunga (Sylvia Grinnell River), a water source that has been used by Inuit for thousands of years. While the City of Iqaluit has set up two water distribution stations around town using the water from this river, it became clear to us at QCFC today that this emergency requires additional and urgent responses from all levels of government.
During our daily meal distribution today, we saw record-breaking numbers of community members accessing our services. Thankfully our team was prepared and we were able to meet this heightened demand. Nunavut is already the most food insecure region in Canada, with 77.6% of Inuit over the age of 15 currently experiencing food insecurity. With many community members unable to access the river or the water distribution stations around town due to a lack of transportation, physical ability, water jugs, or time, it is clear that clean drinking water and food insecurity are inextricably linked. For many Indigenous communities around Canada, today’s experience in Iqaluit is their daily reality.
Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre calls on the City of Iqaluit, the Government of Nunavut, and the Government of Canada to strengthen their responses to this emergency in Iqaluit. We also call on the Government of Canada to provide clean drinking water to all Indigenous communities in Canada immediately. The Government of Canada previously committed to ending drinking water advisories on all Indigenous reserves by March 2021. As of May 2021, there were 53 long-term drinking water advisories that remained in effect in 34 First Nations communities. 5 Nunavut communities currently have active water advisories, including Iqaluit. As one of the most water-abundant and wealthy countries in the world, it is inexcusable that many people in Canada do not have access to clean drinking water.