Youth Leaders on Water Crisis in Paq’tnkek

Water shortage is an ongoing issue in neighbouring community 

While the boil advisory in Paq’tnkek has been lifted by Health Canada as of October 19, the community faces an ongoing water crisis. 

Several community members report that shortage of water is an ongoing issue while quality control has been established again. 

Paq’tnkek has previously suffered from a water shortage due to construction this past July. 

Dennis Pictou has been active in spreading the message to community members on social media. On October 18, Pictou made a public announcement that details some of the community collaboration that led to the lifting of the boil advisory, “We are asking for all community members to conserve water until further notice. We can’t give an exact timeline at this moment because the many factors that go into all of this (water consumed, most active timeframes, available water pressure, etc.). We will also be under a boil water advisory until Health Canada says otherwise. Like water conservation, the end date is subject to all of our community factors.

Petow residents will experience low water pressure this afternoon and every second day from this point forward. This is due to water consumption on the main reserve side. Every two days we will be sending water from the Petow pump house to Saqamaw pump house at night for everyone’s convenience.

If we all do our part in conserving water we can get a better read on what possible timeline we are subject to. To put it simply, the less water we consume, the less time we’ll be in this predicament.

This coming Monday there will be a phone conference meeting with Water & Waste Water operators, contractors and other parties to discuss construction of Well #4 in Petow. Construction is in place to be fast tracked due to our circumstances.

If I haven’t touched on any of the questions from community members, get me the question and I’ll try my best to get the answer. Thanks for your patience.”

The note by Pictou calls for action by community members to limit their water use. During the water crisis, Richard Perry delivered 25 four-litre jugs of water on his pickup truck at the band office for community members. 

Lack of access to quality water in Paq’tnkek is a serious     issue. 

Youth leaders from Paq’tnkek spoke with The Xaverian Weekly on how the water crisis has, and continues to, affect them. Danika says, “It’s kind of hard to live without water. It sucks because I sweat a lot and I can’t shower. My mom goes to grandma’s house to get some jugs of water for our house and I have to go to my grandma’s house to shower.” 

Ryan Stevens adds, “We get bad water. It’s orange and brown. I want people to stop wasting water. We have not been able to boil food or anything. We have to go all the way to town for water.” 

Casey mentions the ongoing crisis, “When we don’t have water, we don’t have anything. The water came back a little, but it’s not fully come back.” 

Amara emphasizes the severity of the issues, “Well, the water you have to boil because it has I don’t know what in it. We have a huge jug, but it’s very old and has no water. I put a Barbie sticker on it a while ago. The worst part is some houses had their water cut off. Make sure to boil water in a crisis.”

Everyone, including the youth, has been impacted by the water crisis. It is important to address this problem and think of ways to be supportive. Advocating for water rights in the Mi’kmaw Nation is an avenue that could lead to change.

The water crisis is not only prominent in this community, it has also been a pervasive issue across Canada.

Water has  also been a crisis in Attawapiskat, Northern Ontario, Xeni Gwet’in First Nation, British Columbia and Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, Quebec.

Change needs to happen because water is life.