Vancouver, Coast Salish Territory – When wildfires threatened Lytton First Nation in 2021, Warren Brown was essential in protecting his community’s water supply by staying behind—as others evacuated to safety—to ensure the water treatment plants remained up and running. He wanted to do everything he could to ensure his community had safe and clean drinking water to come home to. Warren’s commitment to caring for his community’s clean water supply continues to play a significant role in protecting their health and safety.

Warren Brown of Lytton First Nation has been named the 2023 recipient of the National First Nations Water Leadership Award at the 14th annual BC and Yukon Territory Water and Wastewater Operational Excellence Conference held in Vancouver, BC.

First nominated in 2022, Warren was at the forefront of the response to the 2021 wildfires that devastated Lytton First Nation and the Village of Lytton. Not only did he save the water systems in his own community, he also helped the Village of Lytton and continues to lead conversations about best practices for water services in the village. Warren operates 13 drinking water systems and has led work to lift six long-term drinking water advisories.

Admired for his professionalism and compassion, Warren continues to be a strong advocate for water operator education and training. He developed a summer program for youth interested in the field to help meet the need in many communities for a certified water operator.

Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu spoke with Warren this week to hear his insights into water management and conservation.

Now in its sixth year, the National First Nations Water Leadership Award recognizes First Nations organizations and individuals like Warren Brown who are making a difference in their communities. The nominees for this year’s award are using innovation to improve access to clean drinking water, advocating for source water protection and water conservation, training and mentoring the next generation of water operators, and much more.

“Water operators work tirelessly and usually behind the scenes to ensure clean water for their communities. The National First Nations Water Leadership Award is an opportunity to shine a light on this important work. No one exemplifies that dedication more than Warren Brown, whose commitment to preserving clean water led him to stay behind during historic wildfires to protect critical infrastructure for his community. In addition to his work, which preserves clean water for numerous First Nation communities, Warren also mentors the next generation of water operators. His commitment to service should serve as a guiding light toward a future where all First Nations have access to safe and clean drinking water. Your dedication is an inspiration to us all. Congratulations on this well-deserved achievement.” – The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services

“Water is everyone’s responsibility. Water professionals are some of the protectors of water and educators of future protectors. Communication is a big need for safe drinking water. Showing leaders, community members and school students where their drinking water comes from, how it’s processed, and how it’s stored. The more a water operator communicates with their community about how things are operating and responds quickly to any quality concerns, the more trust there will be within the community towards the operator. And conservation of water is needed, ensuring our water is safe from industry and natural disasters.” – Warren Brown, Lead Operator, Lytton First Nation
Recipient of the 2023 National First Nations Water Leadership Award

“Warren’s commitment to partnership and relationship building, while also working tirelessly as Lytton First Nation Lead Operator, has set the groundwork for a future where residents of the area, regardless of whether they live on provincial or First Nations lands, can be confident in the quantity and quality of their drinking water supply.” – Casey Neathway, Director, Regional Health Emergency Management and Environmental Public Health Services, First Nations Health Authority, Nominator of Warren Brown

Quick facts

  • The recipient will receive a trophy and a piece of Indigenous artwork, and all nominees will receive a pin designed by an Indigenous company.
  • A record 30 nominations were received for the 2023 National First Nations Water Leadership Award.
  • Nominees are First Nations individuals, community members or leaders, or First Nations organizations or communities.
  • Nominations are reviewed by an advisory committee of First Nations organizations and past winners.
  • The nomination period for the 2024 National First Nations Water Leadership Award will be from January 1, 2024, to March 31, 2024. ISC’s website outlines the nomination process.


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