Frequently Asked Questions

Governance Questions

What is the structure of the AFNWA’s Board?

The AFNWA was incorporated on July 18, 2018, under Canada’s Not-for-Profit Corporations Act. It is governed by a Board of Directors (Board), comprising up to 15 members: 12 First Nations Chiefs and 3 technical experts. An Elders’ Advisory Lodge guides the Board in adhering to Two-Eyed Seeing, with direct advice to incorporate traditional knowledge and the cultural significance of water.

What is the function of the AFNWA’s Board?

The Board’s function is to provide oversight and approval of the AFNWA Business Plans and Policies. The Board approves the annual amount spent on water and wastewater services, as identified and recommended by the AFNWA’s senior management team. The Board’s decisions must adhere to the AFNWA Governance Manual, which is available on the AFNWA website (


How are the AFNWA’s Board members selected?

Board members are appointed by their peers based on:

  • First Nations leadership selection: Board Members are approved by the member community representatives at the Annual General Meeting.
  • Technical experts: The Board will select and approve technical experts who will advise and serve on the Board and contribute as part of the decision-making and approval process.
  • Limited terms: All Board members can serve for a period of four (4) years with rotating appointments to ensure continuity. Board members can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. Upon appointment, the Chair can serve for a period of five (5) years.

Who currently serves on the Board?

As of April 2022, the Atlantic First Nations Water Authority Board consists of:

  • Chief Wilbert Marshall [Chair], Potlotek, NS
  • Chief Ross Perley [Vice Chair], Neqotkuk, NB
  • Chief Aaron Sock, Elsipogtog, NB
  • Chief Terry Paul, Membertou, NS
  • Chief Darlene Bernard, Lennox Island, PE
  • Chief Leroy Denny, Eskasoni, NS
  • NS Regional Chief Andrea Paul, Assembly of First Nations
  • NB Regional Chief Joanna Bernard, Assembly of First Nations
  • Todd Hoskin, CEO Ulnooweg
  • Dr. Shelley Denny, Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources
  • Tuma Young, K.C.

How do communities pursue membership with AFNWA?

Communities that have participated in the development of the AFNWA’s Asset Management Plan in 2022 will be presented with all information required to make an informed decision. This information includes community-level responsibility transfer agreements (Community Agreement), land access permits; the Service Delivery Transfer Agreement [SDTA] between Canada and AFNWA; the10-Year Business Plan, Governance Manual, and Funding Agreement containing the 10-year capital and operating budgets. The Chief and Council will assess the merits of these documents and agreements, and if membership is approved, will sign a Band Council Resolution to become members.

Communities that have not participated in the initial Asset Management Plan [AMP] can still become members by passing a BCR to confirm their interest in membership. Once received, AFNWA will develop an AMP that builds long-term capital and operational budgets that include the community’s infrastructure and service needs.

Once the community can assess the [SDTA], Land Access Permits, Funding Agreement, 10-Year Business Plan, AFNWA Governance Manuel, the Community Agreement, and are interested in becoming members, a BCR to formally join the AFNWA will be signed by Chief and Council. Please note that once a new community joins the Atlantic First Nations Water Authority, additional funds will be requested from the federal government.

What happens if a member community is not satisfied with the level of service they receive?

Members communities will have the opportunity to raise grievances pertaining to the provision of water and wastewater services through the AFNWA Board of Directors. AFNWA is committed to providing a high-quality service to its member communities and welcomes any feedback on how it can improve services. If the community is not satisfied, there are dispute resolution processes available to all members and their band councils.

What happens to member communities if AFNWA shuts down or becomes bankrupt?

If AFNWA shuts down and terminate its services to communities, the ISC would resume its role in providing funding for the delivery of water and wastewater service to communities, in accordance with the programs and policies that were in effect at the time. As a result, there will be no penalty or gap in services for participating First Nations communities

Will land(s) from participating communities be transferred to AFNWA when they become members?

It is important to state that under no circumstances will a transfer of land from a participating First Nation, to AFNWA, be considered now or in the future. What is being considered for participating communities, that have regulations for their lands under the Indian Act, is a two-phased process intended to provide AFNWA with the necessary access to operate and control water and wastewater assets.

Phase One:  All water treatment and distribution assets and all wastewater treatment and collection assets would be pursuant to Subsection 28(2) of the Indian Act, and with the required approval from the participating First Nation, General Access Permits would be issued to AFNWA to provide its personnel with access to the community’s water and wastewater assets for operation, maintenance, and capital upgrade purposes.

Phase Two: (Over time): Some assets may be considered by AFNWA as being of greater importance to the efficient delivery of water and wastewater services, such as the water treatment plants and wastewater treatment plants. It may be proposed that land upon which these particular asset(s) are located move through a process that would allow:

  1. under Subsection 38 (2) a change from being Common Band land to Designated Lands.
  2. under Subsection 53 (1)(b) the Designated land being Leased to AFNWA.

This would provide a greater degree of control and certainty for AFNWA over these particular classes of assets. It is very important to again note that in both Phases, the land upon which the asset(s) are situated will continue to be part of the member community’s land. There is no transfer of land from member communities to AFNWA.

A Designation process to accomplish a leasing of Band lands to any entity, including AFNWA, always requires a referendum and a vote in favour of such a change by community band members.

There is no transfer of land(s) from member communities to AFNWA.

What governance oversight and polices are in place to assure that AFNWA complies to required water and wastewater standards?

AFNWA held discussions with ISC to determine which federal agencies or First Nations organizations are best suited for this role. It was agreed that Environment and Climate Change Canada would be appropriate for regulating wastewater under the new Wastewater System Effluent Regulations.

AFNWA and ISC are currently exploring an oversight agency for drinking water. AFNWA is also taking a proactive approach to quality assurance and are developing water safety plans in partnership with the Centre for Water Resource Studies at Dalhousie University to comply with Health Canada’s Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.

The AFNWA has signed a final service delivery transfer agreement with ISC. What does this mean for member communities?

The Service Delivery Transfer Agreement transfers ISC’s role to the AFNWA for the development and delivery of Water and Wastewater Services to Participating First Nations. This includes all administrative, policy, and other supportive functions required to support the development and delivery of Water and Wastewater Services.

What if the transition to the AFNWA doesn’t go as planned? How will risk be mitigated for communities?

An Implementation Committee has been appointed to facilitate the successful implementation of the Transfer Agreement by providing direct support, strategic direction, and senior leadership. The Principals of the Implementation Committee are the CEO of the AFNWA and the Director General of the Community Infrastructure Branch at ISC. Both the AFNWA and ISC can appoint representatives to the Implementation Committee. The continuity of projects (projects initiated or approved before signing with the AFNWA) will be handled by the Implementation Committee. The Terms of Reference for the Implementation Committee can be found in Schedule D of the Service Delivery Transfer Agreement (SDTA).

How does AFNWA moderate political bias?

The BOD’s function is to approve the scale of budgets, not to decide on the specific projects and programs within.

AFNWA is a technical organization and the Board approves the annual amount spent on water and wastewater services, as identified and recommended by AFNWA’s senior management team. The Board is tasked with ensuring benefits to all member communities, not just specific communities. The Board’s decisions must adhere to the AFNWA Governance Manual, which is available on the AFNWA website.