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Conditions on First Nation called Third World

Controversy is mounting over health and living conditions on the Kashechewan First Nation in northern Ontario.

Residents on the reserve have gone without drinking water for weeks after E. coli, a dangerous bacteria, was found in the water system. Raw sewage is basically pouring into the community. The local school has since been shut down.

Tribal and provincial leaders have issued cries for help. They say the Canadian government, which has authority over First Nations, has ignored long-standing problems on the reserve. Residents have been boiling water for the past two years in response to health alerts.

"No Ontarian should have to put up with such Third World conditions, and quite frankly, I am personally disgusted by the situation in that community, as is this government," Ontario Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay was quoted as saying.

A doctor was also quoted as saying the reserve infrastructure is beyond help and the 1,700 residents should be relocated. "Nothing here is worth saving," Murray Trussler told The Daily Globe and Mail. He said people are suffering from high rates of skin diseases, which are exacerbated by the water problems.

Canada's Prime Minister Paul Martin, whose party platform seeks to improve conditions for Native people, said in response that the government needs to act.

Get the Story:
E. coli in native community worries PM (CBC 10/24)
Water plight on reserve a disgrace: Ramsay (The Daily Globe and Mail 10/25)
Natives seek help as water worsens (CP 10/25)
PM vows to help aboriginal community (The Edmonton Sun 10/25)
Conditions on reserve 'atrocious,' doctor says (The Daily Globe and Mail 01/25)

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First Nations finally invited to top-level meeting (10/24)