Legislation - Policy

$8B settlement between First Nations, feds in clean water class action

Photo: Two class actions over lack of clean water in First Nations were filed in 2019 and then combined in 2020. Photo: APTN

The Federal Court and the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba have jointly approved an $8-billion settlement in a national class-action lawsuit between Canada and First Nations and their members who’ve had to drink unclean water.

The deal, ratified on Dec. 22, will dish out at least $6 billion over nine years for water infrastructure in communities. Canada will pay $1.5 billion to individual members, and another $400 million will go into an economic and cultural restoration fund.

Emily Whetung, chief of Curve Lake First Nation in southern Ontario and one of three lead plaintiffs, spoke to APTN’s Nation to Nation about the deal on Dec. 9 when it was before the court.

“This is great progress but it’s just a small stepping stone to ensuring that every status Indian living on an Indian reserve has access to clean drinking water,” said Chief Emily Whetung on N2N

She said the agreement creates a legal dispute resolution process so First Nations finally have ways to compel Ottawa to act on its promises.

“It becomes less and less important what the political promises […]

More about: Native Americans, First Nations, and treaty rights

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