Water Is Physical and Spiritual
Water is sacred. We all come from water and it is the source of life for all living things. A child is carried in water as it comes before every child’s birth. Traditional teachings also included the identification that First Nations women have a sacred connection to water. Historically and today, First Nations believe in the shared ownership of land and water, rather than individual ownership.
Water and nature have rights. Humans have the responsibility to respect and preserve those rights. As water is alive both spiritually and physically, it is an important part of many gatherings including ceremonies to honour the water spirits and practices that take your troubles away. Offerings can come from, be made into, or be dedicated to water.
Water can take life and it can save life. Water plays a central role for the community and family activities. Clean water is needed to make Grandmothers’ recipes. The health of Mother Nature is a universal responsibility for all; a healthy environment is linked to good health as water serves as a healer.
Water brings us life, sustains us, and allows healthy people, spirits, environment, and communities to flourish.
The Atlantic First Nations Water Authority represents change in the system that has been in place for over 150 years. It reflects the desire of First Nations for self–determination and control of a resource that is critical for public health, and protection of the environment.
We are committed to progress, innovation, and building solutions to problems experienced by First Nations communities in the long term. We will integrate Indigenous cultural and spiritual knowledge with the technical models of water and wastewater services to ensure proper stewardship of water.
AFNWA is a first for Canada and is a significant departure from the colonial approach. Similar approaches for other services have been realized but this is the first opportunity to transfer water and wastewater service responsibility to a First Nations organization.
When we are fully operational in spring 2022, it will represent an opportunity to blaze a new trail for others to follow.
The Atlantic First Nations Water Authority will play a vital stewardship role in its delivery of essential water and wastewater services. Stewardship responsibility begins in the watershed and continues to where effluent from treatment facilities is discharged to the receiving waters.
From there, the utility will take water from The Creator, and give it back to The Creator, with respect for the flora and fauna along the way. To minimize risk to the environment, the AFNWA will adopt water and sanitation safety plans which is a world-wide best practice and a proactive approach to operations.
We will also integrate Indigenous cultural and spiritual aspects with the scientific aspects of water and wastewater services. AFNWA has a mandate to operate within the principle of Two-Eyed Seeing with oversight through the Board and guidance from the Elders Advisory Lodge.
Through Two-Eyed Seeing, our operations management will directly benefit the communities we serve while protecting the environment from negative impacts. As AFNWA is a first in Canada, we will work with our participants to set the highest standards of service while upholding the peace and beauty of our surroundings.
As the operations and management of water and wastewater services in participating communities, AFNWA can provide a collective stewardship responsibility for the Atlantic First Nations communities. Having a centralized system will provide a level of oversight that will provide consistent high-quality with a mission to manage funding and revenues, support public health and economic development, and protection of the environment.