The extraction and privatization of water for profit is legal in Ontario, but morally unacceptable. Water is for life, not profit.
In September, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council of Six Nations reissued to Triton Water Holdings Canada the cease-and-desist letter it had served to Nestlé Waters Canada, the previous owners of the Aberfoyle bottling plant and the Hillsburgh well. On the same day, youth and allies joined with Six Nations to call on the Ontario government to deny Blue Triton a permit to take water for bottling, to give the Aberfoyle plant to Six Nations as reparations, and to phase out all permits to take water for bottling in Ontario.
Despite this popular grassroots opposition, the Ontario government granted Blue Triton a permit to continue to take 3.6 million liters of water daily from the Aberfoyle plant, and to take 1.1 million liters of water per day from the Hillsburgh location.
Allowing Triton/Nestlé to take water for bottling – now for more than twenty years, is in stark contrast to the lack of drinking water available to residents of Six Nations, 90% of whom do not have access to clean drinking water. The federal and provincial governments are both complicit in this injustice.
The Canadian government excuses its lack of action, blaming ‘budget constraints’, when in reality it is a matter of priorities rather than funding. In Ontario, the Ontario Provincial Police spent more than 16 million dollars policing Haudenosaunee land defenders at LandBack Lane in 2020 and 2021. As land defender Skyler Williams stated, “it’s painful to think that the Ontario government spent that on 20 people sitting in a field singing songs around the fire.”
Instead of using public dollars to ensure the people of Six Nations have access to clean water, our colonial governments spend tax money to criminalize Indigenous people while giving permits to multinational corporations and equity funds to take water, effectively for free, and sell it for profit.
World Water Day is an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the principle that access to water is a human right, and it is an obligation of the government to ensure access to clean drinking water for all.
Allowing Triton/Nestlé to take water for bottling, while Indigenous people of Six Nations have to pay for drinking water to be trucked into their communities is an injustice. Further, it is clear evidence that the colonial project of allowing the extraction of natural resources by corporations for profit - in this case water – while denying Indigenous people their rights, continues.
On World Water Day, Water Watchers affirms its commitment to clean drinking water for all, and full sovereignty for Indigenous people over their lands.
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