First Nations Drinking Water Settlement will offer compensation

By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The glass of water is beginning to look more half full than empty for Indigenous individuals who lived on a First Nation and were impacted by long-term drinking water advisories between November 20, 1995 and June 20, 2021. All impacted individuals are encouraged to submit a claim for the First Nations Drinking Water Settlement including minors, those under disability and personal representatives on their behalf and of those who passed away? after November 20, 2017. The settlement that was approved between the Government of Canada and First Nations on December 22, 2021, will offer compensation for health harms (specified injuries) sustained by those following drinking water advisories. The deadline to submit a claim is March 7, 2023. A claims assessment tool is one of the resources available to assist individuals to navigate and submit their claim before the deadline.

“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,” said Darian Baskatawang from Class Counsel, in a December press release. “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 completing their claim form. There are on-demand webinars and other community resources on the website to provide additional information.”

To be eligible to claim as an individual, applicants must be a member of a First Nation and 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. For those applying on the behalf of an individual who has passed away, it cannot be before Nov. 20, 2017, for them to qualify. If an applicant was born before November 20, 1995, they must have ordinarily resided 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 they were born on or after, they must have lived on a First Nation impacted by a drinking water advisory for a year or longer, anytime between Nov. 20, 1995, and June 20, 2021.

Impacted First Nations may also apply as a community. They must submit a Band Council acceptance resolution to receive $500,000 from the settlement by the extended deadline of Mar. 7, 2023. If they are not submitting for specified injuries and wish to not fill out a claim form, a Band Council confirmation list on behalf of its community members may also be submitted. There is support and funding available for Band Councils to complete and submit this list by March 7, 2023.

Further to this, the First Nations drinking water settlement will also compensate commitments to fund the construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure needed to provide those living on First Nations regular access to clean, safe drinking water in a quantity sufficient for everyday use.

Chadd Cawson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer