The line, “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink,” from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 1798 poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, is a grim reality for some rural and remote Indigenous communities in Northern Ontario dealing with a contaminated water supply.
That reality is spurring Canadore College in North Bay to lead the way for positive change to help affected communities access safe, clean drinking water, recognized as a basic human right by the United Nations.
“Current approaches are not working,” says George Burton, President and CEO of Canadore College, reflecting on the problem. “Decades of trying and failing to achieve better results show that a new path forward is needed.”
Canadore College recognized that it would have to look beyond current practices to address the long-standing water treatment crisis. That is why, in April 2023, the College officially launched its Clean Water Initiative.
By working directly with Indigenous communities to understand their specific water-related challenges, the College hopes its program will develop culturally relevant long-term solutions that respect Indigenous teachings.
The College’s Water Teaching Lodge, made possible in part thanks to a FedNor investment of $750,000, is an integral part of the Clean Water Initiative. The facility supports Indigenous teachings, technologies, and land-based research practices related to water protection.
The College is also building a clean water demonstration site that will be capable of treating water from a variety of sources.
“FedNor’s support has been instrumental in helping us launch the Clean Water Initiative,” says Burton. “The lodge will play an important role in bringing people together and giving them the tools to understand water from an Indigenous point of view.”
This project is another example of how FedNor is working with key partners and stakeholders in Northern Ontario to build stronger communities as part of the Government of Canada’s Prosperity and Growth Strategy for Northern Ontario.