Atlantic First Nations Chiefs have selected the first members to serve as the board of directors for the Atlantic First Nations Water Authority.
Through the collective work of the Atlantic Chiefs, the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat (APC), in partnership with Dalhousie University, Halifax Water, Accelerator Inc., Ulnooweg Development Inc., and CBCL Limited, a preliminary 5-year business plan with governance structure recommendations for an Atlantic First Nations Water Authority to operate and maintain community water systems has been developed.
“The proposed water authority will improve public health for First Nation communities and provide long term economic opportunities for us in the region,” said Chief Bob Gloade, Millbrook First Nation.
Upon considering the merits of this plan, Atlantic First Nations Chiefs have selected the first members to serve as the board directors for the Atlantic First Nations Water Authority. They are:
- Chief Leroy Denny, Eskasoni First Nation
- Chief Aaron Sock, Elsipogtog First Nation
- Chief Matilda Ramjattan, Lennox Island First Nation
- Chief Andrea Paul, Pictou Landing First Nation
- Chief Wilbert Marshall, Potlotek First Nation
In January, Water Canada reported on the long road to achieving a First Nations directed water authority in Atlantic Canada. “Having our first board members demonstrates to the federal government that the Chiefs are serious about moving this initiative forward,” said Chief Matilda Ramjattan, Lennox Island First Nation.
The innovative First Nations Water Authority is based on best practices in utility water and wastewater service delivery, financial modeling, and good governance, scientific research and technical expertise. Just as important, the foundation of this initiative is based on broad and in-depth input from all First Nations communities in the Atlantic Region.
“This is a big step in the development of our authority,” said Chief Andrea Paul, Pictou Landing First Nation. “This brings it (the authority) from a concept to reality.”
With a preliminary board in place, the Atlantic First Nation Water Authority Inc. will be searching for a 25-year funding agreement to allow for long-term planning and management.
APC has found that there is broad public support for this initiative. In November 2017, an APC-commissioned poll by Corporate Research Associates shows that 75 per cent of Atlantic Canadians support First Nations having an independently owned and operated water authority. Further to this, 98 per cent of Atlantic Canadians hold the belief that all residents should have access to clean and safe drinking water, regardless of location.