CAW Helps End Water Contamination in Little Salmon Carmacks

June 8, 2009, 2:29 PM EST

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A group of CAW volunteers have returned to the community of Little Salmon Carmacks in the Yukon to continue work on repairing contaminated water wells for the first nations community.

In total there will be 30 volunteers returning this summer over a six-week period. An initial CAW group, which includes six skilled trades volunteers, who have returned after an initial period of work last year, as well as four new volunteers are already in the Yukon for two weeks.

They will be followed by two other groups of ten for two weeks each. These groups of CAW volunteers include include two sisters and six CAW retirees.

These volunteers are hard at work rebuilding wells that will provide clean drinking water to the community, which has been on a boil water advisory for five years. The wells are contaminated with E. coli and fecal bacteria.

The wells were originally built by the federal government more than 25 years ago. But because of poor planning they were built below ground level which caused for ground water runoff and other problems resulting in the contamination. The federal government has refused to fund repairs.

Over a six-week period in the summer of 2008 a group of 30 CAW volunteers worked to repair this problem. They completed repairs to 27 of the 57 contaminated wells. The volunteers aim to complete the 30 remaining wells this summer.

CAW National President Ken Lewenza said this project is a strong example of social unionism. "Our union is determined to make a difference not only at the bargaining table but also throughout our communities, advocating for the principles of equity, justice and opportunities for all. This is part of our ongoing campaign to help eradicate poverty across the country," Lewenza said.

CAW national skilled trades coordinator Mike Michaud said the volunteers give up their vacation time and receive no pay, donating their skills to help the community, which provides the materials needed.

"A wonderful bond has grown between the skilled volunteers and the community, as most of the volunteers from last year wanted to return to help complete this project," Michaud said.

Chief Eddie Skookum of Little Salmon Carmacks First Nations thanked the CAW for its leadership and the volunteering of time and skills to advance social justice and health issues in the community.

"It's good that people like the CAW can step up to the plate when the government won't," Skookum said.


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