Marc Miller, minister of Indigenous services, congratulated Éric Sioui, the 2020 recipient of the National First Nations Water Leadership Award.

“Water operators are essential to ensuring First Nations communities have access to safe, clean, and reliable drinking water,” said Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller.

“They work long hours, often with little recognition, to watch over their community’s water supply,” added Miller. “The hard work and dedication of people like Éric is vital in helping us to achieve the goal of safe and clean drinking water in First Nations communities. Thank you Éric, and congratulations on receiving the National First Nations Water Leadership Award.”

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) created the annual National First Nations Water Leadership Award in March 2018 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.

Sioui is a Huron-Wendat chemical engineering technician and a water treatment systems technician from Wendake, Quebec. He was recognized for his leadership and for sharing his expertise with other First Nations water operators across the province of Quebec through the Circuit Rider Training Program.

“I am honoured and proud to accept this wonderful acknowledgement,” said Éric Sioui, coordinator of the Circuit Rider Training Program. “I share it wholeheartedly with my team of Circuit Rider trainers, as well as all the First Nations water treatment operators in Quebec whom we have trained and supported for already 20 years.”

The Circuit Rider Training Program consists of a team of qualified experts who travel to First Nations communities to train the people responsible for operating, monitoring, and maintaining drinking water and wastewater systems.

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“From the start, we have worked hard and made tremendous progress on many aspects of our work,” said Sioui. “As a result, a beautiful relationship of trust has developed over the years. Together, we have shared our knowledge and cultures, passionately, and respectfully. Our concerted efforts now ensure the health and safety of the majority of the population and improve the quality of life in communities, while also protecting the environment. This great exchange is a win-win situation for everyone.”

As a Circuit Rider, Sioui assists other First Nations operators in obtaining and maintaining their certification. He also provides advice to Chiefs and Councils. Effective support for water operators through the Circuit Rider Training Program has helped Quebec First Nations prevent drinking water advisories and address them quickly when they are issued. As such, there are currently no long-term water drinking advisories in the province.

Some of Sioui’s contributions to water leadership also include the development of a web page to assist water operators through the Circuit Rider Training Program and training courses. He also created a centralized equipment loan program for materials, including an inspection camera, a leak detector, and other water system-related equipment.

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