CAW and AFN Celebrate Clean Water for Little Salmon Carmacks

September 3, 2008, 3:59 PM EST

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CAW President Buzz Hargrove joined Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine in the Yukon for a visit to the community of Little Salmon Carmacks in celebration of a well refurbishing project by CAW skilled trades members which took place over the summer.

While the airplane transporting the group was unable to land due to poor weather conditions, the pair met with Little Salmon Carmacks Chief Eddie Skookum and Regional Chief Rick O'Brien for a make-shift press conference at a lodge in Braeburn, an hour between both Whitehorse and Little Salmon Carmacks.

To date, 27 of the 57 wells have been completed, with the rest to follow next summer. Two crews traveled to Little Salmon Carmacks in June and July to work on the wells. The project is part of an ongoing partnership between the Assembly of First Nations and CAW. The skilled trades volunteers also worked along side several First Nations youth.

"I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to all the CAW volunteers who came here to Little Salmon Carmacks this summer to work on improving the water quality in the community," said Fontaine. "The partnership between CAW and Assembly of First Nations has had a positive impact and provides us with an approach to resolve some seemingly insurmountable infrastructure concerns in First Nation communities," he added.

The community has been under a boil water advisory for more than three years, one of the one hundred First Nations communities across Canada with unsafe drinking water.

"It is a disgrace that this situation has not been dealt with properly by our federal government," said Hargrove. "Basic rights such as clean drinking water should not be left to the private sector or non-governmental organizations to pick up the slack where governments have failed. The success of this partnership should be a challenge to all levels of government to work side by side with the First Nations people of this country to end social, political and economic inequality."

"We were very happy to have CAW volunteers come into the community this summer to help repair the wells," said Skookum. "After repeated unsuccessful efforts to get Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to look at the issue, we welcomed CAW volunteers support and assistance. Safe, clean drinking water should be a right not a privilege in this country."

In addition to the renovations of the Native Canadian Centre in Toronto which were completed this spring, there are six more projects currently being considered by the joint AFN-CAW committee.

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