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Water Today Title January 29, 2023

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Feature

Update 2022/12/143
First Nations


brought to you in part by


Noah Trekker

The First Nation Drinking Water Settlement.
Bands and Individuals are encouraged to apply for compensation as soon as possible
Band claim period deadline extended to March 7, 2023

After a years-long fight for clean drinking water, Indigenous communities and individuals in Canada reached a settlement with the federal government for $8 billion. This Settlement was approved by the Courts on December 22, 2021, and the claims process opened on March 7, 2022. Since then, some 79% of the 251 eligible communities have sent in their claim for compensation.

Argyle PR, published a press release on December 7, 2022, encouraging eligible bands and individuals to apply as soon as possible, and extending the deadline for communities to March 7, 2023

 According to Argyle PR spokesperson, Kim Taylor. “The press release was sent on behalf of the settlement - not an organization. Our campaign is working to raise awareness about the settlement and the support and resources available to eligible Individuals and Impacted First Nation to submit a claim. Our focus to ensure individuals and First Nation communities understand the claim process, their eligibility and how to submit a Claim.”

Individuals can call free of charge the Administrator ( 1-833-252-4220) for Claim Form support and Class Counsel (1-833-265-7589) for legal questions about the settlement, or visit the website where they can access the online claims assessment tool and an interactive guide, which is a step-by-step guide to completing and submitting the Claim Form.

"We are encouraging individuals to submit a claim for compensation as soon as possible and are offering real support to help them in the process. Claimants can ask us as Class Counsel questions related to this settlement and for assistance making a claim for Specified Injuries. Claimants can also contact the Administrator to understand how they may apply for compensation and access free support for completing their Claim Form. There are on-demand webinars and other community resources on the website to provide additional information." says Darian Baskatawang an Associate and Class Counsel for the First Nations Drinking Water Class Action settlement agreement.


According to Baskatawang , “First Nation and Individual Class Members do not have to pay Class Counsel for services and assistance under the settlement agreement. We can meet with nations to discuss what the settlement agreement means for them, their members, and for generations to come at no cost to the nation. Class Counsel fees are paid separately from the fees going to the communities and individuals who were harmed by living under long-term drinking water advisories.”

The settlement includes compensation for Impacted First Nations and eligible individuals as well as commitments to fund the construction, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure needed to provide regular access to safe drinking water in their homes.  

The First Nation Drinking Water Settlement website offers a trove of information to help bands and individuals submit for compensation. We have summarized below the information offered on the site to help you navigate the sections.

Canada’s Commitment Under the Settlement

The $8 billion settlement includes:

  • $1.8 billion in compensation to individuals and Impacted First Nations; 
  • An additional $50 million for eligible individuals who experienced Specified Injuries due to drinking water advisories that lasted at least one year between November 20, 1995, and June 20, 2021;
  • $6 billion to support construction, upgrading, operation, and maintenance of water infrastructure on First Nations land;
  • A renewed commitment to Canada’s Action Plan for the lifting of all long-term drinking water advisories;
  • Planned modernization of Canada’s First Nations drinking water legislation;
  • The creation of a First Nations Advisory Committee on Safe Drinking Water; and
  • Support for First Nations to develop their own safe drinking water by-laws and initiatives.

Canada has agreed to make all reasonable efforts to support the removal of long-term drinking water advisories and will spend at least $6 billion by March 31, 2030, to implement this commitment by funding the actual cost of construction, upgrading, operation, and maintenance of water infrastructure in First Nations communities.

Who Can Submit?

There is an online claims assessment tool that helps individuals understand if they are eligible by answering a few quick questions. To be eligible for compensation individuals must:

  • not have passed away before November 20, 2017;
  • be a member of a First Nation; and
  • have been impacted by a long-term drinking water advisory (boil water, do not consume or do not use) that lasted at least a year between November 20, 1995, and June 20, 2021.

If born before November 20, 1995, the claimant must have ordinarily resided/lived on an Impacted First Nation during a long-term drinking water advisory that lasted continuously for a year or longer, anytime between November 20, 2013, and June 20, 2021.

If born on or after November 20, 1995, the claimant must have ordinarily resided/lived on an Impacted First Nation during a long-term drinking water advisory that lasted continuously for a year or longer, anytime between November 20, 1995, and June 20, 2021.

This map shows all the First Nations that had known long-term drinking water advisories in the time frames covered by the settlement. As a reminder, a ‘long-term drinking water advisory’ means one that lasted for a year or longer.



WT will be following developments on this story. Tune in for part 2.





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