Indigenous Services Canada announced that Jonathan Riberdy of Zhiibaahaasing First Nation received the 2021 National First Nations Water Leadership Award.

“My favourite part of my day-to-day work within Zhiibaahaasing First Nation is ensuring we have clean drinking water and showing trainees and community members the processes of the water plant,” said Riberdy. “Teaching my knowledge to other operators is the most rewarding, knowing that I can share my knowledge. Four times a year, our Elders and women take the lead in water ceremonies for our clean drinking water. We take this time to say Miigwech (thank you) to the water for letting us have clean, drinkable, fishable, and swimmable water. Having leadership at these ceremonies shows the commitment towards water and gives them an understanding of the water processes.”

In 2018, the National First Nations Water Leadership Award was established to recognize First Nations individuals or organizations that have demonstrated leadership and outstanding dedication to the advancement of clean and safe drinking water in First Nations communities.

Riberdy is a water operator whose commitment and passion are an inspiration to his community. He has worked alongside his Chief and Council to help bring long-term solutions that provide safe and clean drinking water to his community, and he strives to share his knowledge with others.

For many years, Riberdy has worked tirelessly to uphold high drinking water standards in his community and to train young Indigenous water operators across Ontario. Riberdy currently serves as his community’s water supervisor, a project manager for Swim Drink Fish Canada, and a director for the Aboriginal Water and Wastewater Association of Ontario.

“Congratulations Jonathan Riberdy of Zhiibaahaasing First Nation for being named the 2021 recipient of the National First Nations Water Leadership Award!” said Patty Hajdu
minister of Indigenous services. “Thank you for your work and dedication to your community. The expertise and commitment of water operators like Mr. Riberdy are vital in achieving our shared goal—ensuring that all First Nations communities have access to clean drinking water and maintaining strong water and wastewater infrastructure. Thank you Jonathan and congratulations!”

Each year, $10,000 in bursaries in the winner’s name are made available to First Nations individuals who are pursuing or furthering their career in the water and wastewater industry. Applications are open, and those interested in pursuing professional development in the industry are highly encouraged to apply. The Circuit Rider Trainer Professional Association (CRTPA) is responsible for administering the bursaries and more information is available on the CRTPA website, including an application form for the bursaries.


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