First Nation water is cheap for companies, unavailable for residents
October 4, 2018 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Canada is home to 60% of the world’s lakes and one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, yet there are currently 69 indigenous communities with long-term boil water advisories (Gov't of Canada, Water in First Nation communities), which means tens of thousands of people haven’t had drinkable water for at least a year. Meanwhile, working legal ambiguity to their favor, Nestlé extracts water on expired permits for next to nothing, paying the province of Ontario $503.71 (US$390.38) per million litres (CBC, Nov. 26, 2017). But they pay the Six Nations nothing, despite their pumps pulling water out from Six Nations treaty land. In response, the Six Nations are suing the province, in a case before the superior court of Ontario. (Alexandra Shimo for the Guardian, Oct. 4, 2018) posted by filthy light thief (14 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
 


Can anyone give a precis on how far tribal autonomy goes in Canadian reserves? In the US, it goes pretty far because treaties with tribes have the same standing as treaties with foreign nations: they can be renegotiated, and they can't contain anything unconstitutional, but they cannot be overridden by mere legislation, state or federal. How much leverage do tribes have in Canada?
posted by ocschwar at 11:24 AM on October 4, 2018


they can be renegotiated, and they can't contain anything unconstitutional, but they cannot be overridden by mere legislation, state or federal

I'm afraid that's not precisely true. Congress has plenary authority over the tribes in the US, which means that Congress can throw away a treaty if it wants -- and it has done so in the past. No other entities in the US can revoke valid ratified treaties, but Congress can.

One of the fears regarding the current administration is that they will nibble away at tribal sovereignty, assisted by the GOP in Congress. Given what happened with Bears Ears, that's already underway.
posted by suelac at 11:33 AM on October 4, 2018 [7 favorites]


Ugh. Nestle taking lots of water from Aberfoyle for nothing was a massive issue when I was living in Guelph. 20 years ago. Why no-one steps in and puts an end to this exploitation, when giant companies are making massive profits is mind-boggling.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:09 PM on October 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


Hey, let's water bag it on over to Michigan, they can make up the difference.
posted by clavdivs at 12:54 PM on October 4, 2018


The Canadian government and people are responsible for this. Nestle behaves terribly, but Canada allowed this to happen. And we continue to treat our indigenous peoples appallingly.
posted by Stonkle at 3:07 PM on October 4, 2018 [12 favorites]


Congress can throw away a treaty if it wants -- and it has done so in the past

it continues to do so in the present and will continue to do so until the end of all time unless we literally decolonize congress.
posted by poffin boffin at 4:05 PM on October 4, 2018 [5 favorites]


"Selling" water for free is necessary to prevent it from becoming a privatized tradeable good under NAFTA and other treaties. Imo this issue is a distraction from the crimes of colonization and treaty abrogation that artificially deprive First Nations of the infrastructure required to provide safe water and other resources.

The problem is not Nestle, it is us.
posted by mikek at 6:00 PM on October 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


"Selling" water for free is necessary to prevent it from becoming a privatized tradeable good under NAFTA and other treaties

I'm interested in this detail. How does it work? Is there an easy way to find/read/understand the text in the deal(s)?
posted by klanawa at 6:22 PM on October 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


The problem is not Nestle, it is us.

Nestle has evil enough to go around.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:44 PM on October 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


This whole thing makes me ill. How can the Canadian government allow Nestle to take that water for practically nothing when the First Nations people either have no water or have no potable water? The Guardian article, which infuriated me, notes that "the former CEO of Nestlé, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, caused an international furor when he praised the commodification of water in a 2005 documentary, saying: 'One perspective held by various NGOs – which I would call extreme – is that water should be declared a human right … The other view is that water is a grocery product. And just as every other product, it should have a market value.'” To that I say, damn right water is a human right. We can't live without it, and as we have seen time and time again, poor people without access to uncontaminated water supplies die or suffer serious harm. Is there nothing we can't commodify?
posted by ceejaytee at 10:41 AM on October 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


How can the Canadian government allow Nestle to take that water for practically nothing

1. They don't care about First Nations people because they are not a strong enough voting demographic and do not have the money to shift the situation to their favor and / or systemic racism.

2. Nestle may in fact be bribing them, in whatever corporate-quasi-legal-or-maybe-not form that is taking.

Is there nothing we can't commodify?

No. I understand people are selling purified air to the wealthy in Beijing so they don't have to breathe smog like the plebes.
posted by ananci at 2:29 PM on October 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


filthy light thief: "Canada is home to 60% of the world’s lakes and one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, yet there are currently 69 indigenous communities with long-term boil water advisories "

The current government is making pretty good progress on dropping that number to zero (a goal for 2021). 71 long term advisories have been lifted in the last three years.
posted by Mitheral at 6:57 PM on October 5, 2018


Faulty access to clean water in the Rez system is an aspect of the old Canadian Colonialism. Ready for new ideas.
posted by ovvl at 5:42 PM on October 6, 2018


« Older HUD And Its Discontents   |   Nobel Prize winner Donna Strickland & physics'... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments