Canadian Rangers deployed to Neskantaga First Nation during water crisis, Miller says

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OTTAWA — Canadian Rangers were expected to arrive in Neskantaga First Nation on Friday to help the remote community in northern Ontario as it grapples with a water crisis.

Much of the First Nation was evacuated earlier in the month after high levels of hydrocarbons -- chemical compounds found in crude oil and coal -- were discovered in the water supply, forcing officials to turn off the pipes.

"The Canadian Rangers have also been deployed to support the community and should be on the ground as of today," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller told reporters on Friday.

"We're diligently working towards finding immediate and long-term solutions to this health emergency, and we will not stop until Neskantaga has access to clean, safe and reliable drinking water."

The Rangers are a sub-component of the Canadian Army Reserve.

Neskantaga has Canada's longest-standing on-reserve boil-water advisory, in place for 25 years.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau backtracked on a longstanding promise to end all on-reserve boil-water advisories by March 2021, citing travel restrictions implemented because of the pandemic.

Miller said the government continues to "work aggressively" to end boil-water advisories by next spring.

"Canada won't stop until all First Nations on-reserve have access to safe, clean and reliable drinking water," he said Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press