For two years, the Yukon's Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation community has been under a boil-water advisory because of the risk of E.coli contamination from its 90 water wells. And for two years they have asked the federal government for help, but to no avail.
So it is welcome news that the Canadian Auto Workers union plans to send volunteer labourers next spring to fix the wells and educate the community on how to maintain them. It is one of a number of initiatives the CAW is undertaking to help the Assembly of First Nations with its Make Poverty History campaign.
While urging other organizations and businesses to become involved, CAW president Buzz Hargrove rightly slammed Ottawa for failing to provide adequate help for hard-pressed native communities. More than 100 reserves remain under boil-water advisories and one in 30 of their homes have no running water or flush toilets.
But Prime Minister Stephen Harper's response to these abject conditions has been only a vague reference in his recent throne speech to improving drinking water in First Nations communities.
At the very least, Harper should follow the CAW's lead and match the resources that groups like the autoworkers' union are investing to improve conditions for Canada's 1 million native people.