Safe Drinking Water in Little Salmon Carmacks

July 14, 2009, 10:09 AM EST


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A group of CAW volunteers have completed the task of repairing contaminated water wells for the First Nations Community of Little Salmon Carmacks in the Yukon.

A total of 30 CAW volunteers worked on the project over a six-week period this year, completing repairs to 57 wells that were started last year. Prior to the completion of the project the community had been on a boil water advisory for five years. The wells were contaminated with E.coli and fecal bacteria.

The wells were originally built by the federal government more than 25 years ago. However, poor planning meant they were built below ground level causing ground water runoff and other issues that resulted in the contamination. The federal government refused to fund repairs.

The volunteers gave up their vacation time and received no pay, donating their skills to help the community, which provided the materials needed.

CAW National President Ken Lewenza said it's a project of which the CAW is very proud. "These CAW volunteers have given their time, effort and skills to help this first nations' community achieve something that will make a real difference in their lives. This community struggled for years to have something that most Canadians take for granted. Our federal government must do much more to help build more equitable and just communities for all Canadians."

CAW national skilled trades coordinator Mike Michaud thanked the skilled volunteers for their efforts. "This work will mean a real difference in the lives of all community members, who for the first time in many years will be able to enjoy clean, safe drinking water."

All the tools purchased for the project were donated to the community. The sleeping bags, pillows and camp equipment used by volunteers were donated to a local youth charity. The three group leaders for the project were national coordinators Mike Aquilina, Terry Weymouth and Mark Desjardins. CAW Local 2002 member Tammy Cross from Air Canada Jazz in Whitehorse deserves enormous credit for her assistance in the preparations for the CAW volunteers.

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