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1st July 2021
Marten Falls First Nation sues federal government over drinking water advisory

DCN-JOC News Services June 30, 2021

THUNDER BAY, ONT. — Marten Falls First Nation of northern Ontario has announced it is joining class-action litigation against the Attorney General of Canada seeking action on drinking water advisories in First Nation communities.

Legal representatives handing the suit are Olthuis, Kleer, Townshend (OKT) LLP and McCarthy Tetrault LLP, stated a June 29 release.

The statement said, “Marten Falls has decided to participate in this class-action lawsuit because it has been under a boil water advisory for over 20 years. The lack of potable water in the community has resulted in illness, an unnecessary loss of opportunities amongst community members, and a burdensome distribution process.”

Although the federal government reimburses Marten Falls for its expenses including flying in bottled water, the cost of buying and transporting water puts a “significant strain” on the community’s limited financial resources, the statement said.

“The reimbursement process is also slow and partial since the community shares water with non-band members in the community like teachers, contractors and guest workers who are not covered.”

The purpose of the suit is two-old, said the First Nation. First, to obtain compensation for First Nations affected by drinking water advisories, and second, to obtain a declaration from the federal government that it will work with First Nations to provide access to clean water.

“Marten Falls calls on the Government of Canada to provide Marten Falls First Nation with more housing and infrastructure appropriations, based on the federal government’s current responsibility towards our First Nation and our treaty relationship. Additionally, more needs to be done on Indigenous Services Canada’s part to work collaboratively with Marten Falls to improve community infrastructure,” the release stated.