Storytellers Gala to focus on access to safe drinking water

More than 150 First Nations communities don't have access to clean, safe drinking water

TRUSU Aboriginal representative James-Dean Aleck (middle) with speakers from last year’s Storytellers Gala. (Submitted)

The ninth annual TRUSU Storytellers Gala will be a discussion about access to clean and safe drinking water in Aboriginal communities in Canada. The gala will create awareness for an issue many Canadians are unaware of.

James-Dean Aleck, TRUSU’s Aboriginal students’ representative, said the discussion is long overdue.

“We are focusing on the broader scale, because within Canada there’s more than 150 Indian reserves that don’t have clean or safe drinking water. What we’re hoping to do is bring in people to discuss solutions, but we are also open for people’s personal stories about how it’s affected them on their reserves,” Aleck said.

Aleck said we can’t always rely on the government to step in, and that the best way to create change is to be proactive.

“It’s very easy to point fingers and to point the blame. It’s very easy to complain. All of that is the easy part. The Prime Minister made a promise that this was going to be one of the issues he was going to tackle,” Aleck said.

“Of course, it’s been a couple of years and the issue has been pushed aside as something that’s not important, when really it is. These Indian reserves need this clean water because it’s affecting the people now and it’s affecting the children of the future generations,” Aleck said.

The gala will consist of five panelists, each from different backgrounds and areas of expertise.

Casey Neathway (interior manager of environmental public health services for the First Nations Health Authority), Chief Francis Alec (Ts’kw’aylaxw First Nation), Ruth Johannes Madsen (chair, Thompson Institute of Environmental Studies), Lisa Clark (drinking water engineer, Urban Systems) and Jeffrey More (social work lecturer at TRU) will all speak to the subject.

“What we want to focus on is actually finding solutions. We want to gather different people from different perspectives to share their knowledge and try to piece together a plan for all Indian reserves,” Aleck said.

Aleck added that this is not just an Indigenous issue, it’s a Canadian issue.

“We live in a time and an age where there’s so many problems and issues that could be solved if we would just band together,” Aleck said.

The event will take place from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 16 in the International Building’s room IB 1020.