First Nations Drinking Water

… a resource page for Toronto PPG1007

Real client for Briefing Notes

The live case and the real communities for the Briefing Note Assignment

Each student in Section I of PPG1007 was assigned one of the Ontario First Nations communities on the map and table below and asked to submit two briefing notes to the Regional Director General for Indigenous Services Canada – the first with a background analysis and the second with implementation advice on ending the boil water advisory in that community. Details on the assignment and the client can be found in the Background section below the table.

Map of 16 First Nations communities and the student analysts
(click to open pdf and access the links to Google Earth and LinkedIn)
Table of 16 communities, student LinkedIn profiles,
completed briefing notes, and institutional links
First Nation with
Google Earth link
Student LinkedIn profile and
completed Briefing Notes
First Nation Website and
Indigenous Services Canada Profile
Big Grassy


Daniel Blazekovic



Grassy Narrows
(Asubpeescho Seewagunk)
Sacha Forstner



Gull Bay


Rupinder Bagha



Eagle Lake


Kaitlin De Menna



Lac La Croix


Emily Graham



Lac Seul


Rebecca Hellam



Mississaugas of Skugog Island First Nation


Reena Manjania



Nibinamik First Nation


Sanya Ramnauth





Jessica Sopher





Joseph Sorestad



Sachigo Lake


Katerina Stamadianos



Sandy Lake


Duncan Tooley



Serpent River


Nicole Winger



Shoal Lake No. 40


Alec Wreford



Slate Falls Nation


Madeline Poole





Tony Yin



NOTE: For reference, the other two assignments for Section I of PPG1007 using live cases and real clients are Minister’s Briefing Cases for PPG1007 Section I and Munk Amalgamation Student Initiative.



The primary case used in Section I of PPG1007

This case pertains to the federal government commitment to “eliminating all long-term boil water advisories by 2021 as a key measure in ensuring First Nations people on reserve have access to clean drinking water” with particular reference to First Nations communities in Ontario.

In late 2017 there were 25-30 First Nation communities in Ontario designated on the Indigenous Service Canada’s interactive map of efforts underway to address drinking water advisories at Each of the students in Section I of PPG1007 has been assigned the community in the table below, which lists the link to the community website and the Indigenous Services Canada First Nation Profile.

The case is used for the Briefing Note Assignments and for breakout group discussions of concepts in Weeks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 (see Breakout Groups for PPG1007 Section I).

The briefing notes have a real client – Anne Scotton, recently appointed to the position of Ontario Regional Director General of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC). Ms Scotton is interested in analyses by SPPG students on this matter and looks forward to reading the briefing notes and making them available to the relevant First Nations communities. (For a profile of Anne Scotton in her previous position, see Ms Scotton will be our guest for Week 4 on 31 January, the day the first briefing note is due, and for Week 7 on 28 February, the day the second of the briefing notes is due.

The case will also help prepare students for their Minister’s Briefing Cases for PPG1007 Section I, which have as clients, Ms Scotton, the Minister and Deputy Minister of Indigenous Services Canada, and the Secretary of the Treasury Board.

Briefing note assignment

The two-part Briefing Note Assignment for PPG1007 Section I is to recommend a course of action to minimize the likelihood that a specific Ontario First Nation community will be under a Drinking Water Advisory in 2021.

Each student is to prepare two sequential briefing notes. The first (worth 15%, due 31 January) will require you to develop a background assessment of the implementation challenge. In the second (worth 30%, due 28 February), you will take this further by developing strategic options and a recommended course of action. Each note will be a maximum of two pages in length and be written in a concise, professional style. Briefing notes should be self-contained but can include Annex material beyond the two-page limit if needed. The briefing notes will be assessed on the quality of your research, your analytical and problem-solving skills, your ability to appropriately apply concepts covered in class to date, your creativity and the clarity and focus of your writing.

Students are encouraged to collaborate on research and share findings so long as the contributions of others are appropriately referenced in either the briefing note or the covering email to the instructor.

Students are encouraged to seek assistance from classmates in writing and proofreading their briefing notes, keeping in mind the section’s Mission Statement – to maximize student learning by working together to produce an impressive body of strategic advice on real implementation problems. Such assistance should be mentioned in the covering email to the instructor.

After marking and review with the student, the instructor will make the briefing notes available on the table above. Students can choose whether to include their full name on the posted briefing note and whether to include a link to their Linked In profile.

For each of the two briefing notes, the student must consult in person or by telephone with at least one person, from at least two of:

  • the First Nation that is the subject of the briefing note
  • the Indigenous organizations to which that First Nation belongs
  • the government departments with a role in the matter
  • the people listed in Resource Persons for First Nation Cases

Both briefing notes should follow the current format used by the INAC Ontario Regional Office:

In the course of discussions in class and with Indigenous Services Canada, the following templates were developed:

Breakout group 3-minute briefs

Each student has been assigned to one of four breakout groups, as detailed in Breakout Groups for PPG1007 Section I. The breakout groups will provide 3-minute briefs to the whole class as follows.

For Week 2 – 3-minute briefs on relevant parts of major reports on water management on First Nations

For Week 4 – 3-minute briefs on challenges

  • Group 1: How drinking water is handled in rural Canada
  • Group 2: How the challenge of drinking water management on First Nations communities differs from that in nearby non-Indigenous communities
  • Group 3: Capital spending requirements to bring the standards of water management in Ontario First Nations communities to those of rural Canada
  • Group 4: Technical and operating challenges for water systems in First Nations communities

For Week 5 – 3-minute briefs on institutional players

  • Group 1: the Council of a First Nations community (noting differences between remote communities and those closer to metropolitan centres with better prospects for increasing own-source revenue)
  • Group 2: the INAC Regional Operations Sector and the INAC Ontario Regional Office
  • Group 3: the Minister/Deputy Minister of Indigenous Services and the central agencies of government
  • Group 4: provincial and municipal governments, nonprofit groups, the media

For Week 6 – 3-minute briefs on policy instruments


First Nations profiles (Ontario communities listing page on INAC website)

People and organizational contact information

Resource Persons for First Nation Cases

GOC411 Employee Directory, Indigenous and Northern Affairs at

Indigenous Services Canada, Ontario Region, at

Indigenous Services Canada, Ontario Region GEDS pages:

Indigenous Services Canada, GEDS page for Ontario Region Capital Management Officer:

The Drinking Water Team at the Ontario Region of Indigenous Services Canada
(courtesy of Indigenous Services Canada – click to expand)

Health Canada First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Ontario Region GEDS pages:

Assembly of First Nations, at, and contacts for Water at

Chiefs of Ontario, at and drinking water safety at

Nishnawbe Aski Nation, at

Independent First Nations Alliance (IFNA), at

Northern Chiefs Council (Keewaytinook Okimakanak), at

Matawa First Nations Management (MFNM), at

Mushkegowuk Council, at

Shibogama First Nations Council, at

Wabun Tribal Council, at

Windigo First Nations Council, at

Atlas pages

Indigenous Peoples of Ontario

The following two topic pages include 23 concept pages and dozens of resource links, several of which are relevant to the cases:

Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Governance

Maps and status reports

Maps Locating First Nations Communities in Ontario

Indigenous Services Canada (2017), Safe drinking water for First Nation communities (includes map)

Indigenous Services Canada (2017), Ending long-term drinking water advisories in First Nation communities

Indigenous Services Canada (2016), Map Room, at, accessed 20 November 2017.

Reports by journalists and non-governmental organizations

A sampling, listed in chronological order:

Kim Scott (June 2007), Successful Indigenous Community in Canada, Prepared for the Strategic Policy and Planning Unit, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Health Canada, by Kishk Anaquot Health Research

CBC News (30 November 2011), Clean running water still a luxury on many native reserves

Alasdair Morrison, Lori Bradford, and Lalita Bharadwaj (2015), Quantifiable progress of the First Nations Water Management Strategy, 2001–2013: Ready for regulation? Canadian Water Resources Journal, 14 September 2015, PDF on Blackboard, abstract at Quantifiable progress of the First Nations Water Management Strategy, 2001–2013: Ready for regulation?

CBC News (7 October 2015), Justin Trudeau vows to end First Nations reserve boil-water advisories within 5 years

MacLean’s (7 October 2015), Why can’t we get clean water to First Nation reserves?

Human Rights Watch (7 June 2016), Make it Safe – Canada’s Obligation to End the First Nations Water Crisis (pdf of 91 page report)

Vice (16 October 2016), Despite Trudeau’s Promise, Liberals Haven’t Made a Dent in the First Nations Water Crisis

Globe and Mail (25 January 2017), Ottawa still failing to provide adequate health care on reserves: report

Globe and Mail (20 February 2017), Unsafe to Drink – Water treatments fail on Canadian reserves

Globe and Mail (23 February 2017), Indigenous Affairs Minister confident about improving water quality on reserves

Globe and Mail (24 February 2017), The trouble behind Canada’s failed First Nations water plants

MetroNews (29 June 2017), ‘It’s just mind-boggling’: Before Canada 150, more than 150 drinking water advisories listed online

Globe and Mail (11 December 2017), Focus on real issues, please

Toronto Star (19 December 2017), Jane Philpott will not take ‘no’ for an answer in 2018

Globe and Mail (9 January 2018), With Philpott at the helm, Ottawa (finally) takes action on Indigenous issues

Toronto Sun (10 January 2018), GOLDSTEIN: Conservatives are cowards on Indigenous issues

CBC News (23 January 2018), ‘We must get this done’: Liberals stick to First Nations water promise amid new boil-water advisories

iPolitics (23 January 2018), More drinking water systems added to 2021 commitment

Globe and Mail (30 January 2018), Ottawa may be neglecting its best bet for ending drinking-water advisories: training operators

Videos and documentaries

TVO (2016), 10 Questions on First Nations Drinking Water, The Agenda with Steve Paikin, 6 October 2016, at, accessed 28 February 2018.

TVO (2017), The Water Brothers, Water Everywhere but Not a Drop to Drink, at, accessed 23 November 2017.

Global News (7 November 2015), As Long as the Waters Flow, at, accessed 23 November 2017.

HumanRightsWatch (7 June 2016), Canada’s Water Crisis – Indigenous Families at Risk (4:29 minute video), at, accessed 23 November 2017.

CBC News | Sunday Scrum (10 December 2017), Water crisis in Indigenous communities (9:40 minute video), at, accessed 10 December 2017.

CBC News (7 June 2017), First nations’ water crisis – “We don’t have quality drinking water daily,” (6:37 minute video),, accessed 23 November 2017.

CBC News (14 October 2015), Bad water: ‘Third World’ conditions on First Nations in Canada (3:49 minute video)

National Film Board (2012), Alanis Obomsawin, The People of the Kattawapiskak River (50 minutes), at, accessed 18 November 2017.

Government websites, reports, and releases

Among the most relevant sites are:

Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer (2017), Budget Sufficiency for First Nations Water and Wastewater Infrastructure, 7 December 2017

Neegan Burnside (2011), National Assessment of First Nations Water and Wastewater Systems, Ontario Regional Roll-Up Report FINAL

INAC (2006), Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations

Senate of Canada (2007), Safe Drinking Water for First Nations

INAC (2007), Summative Evaluation of the First Nations Water Management Strategy

INAC (2013), Audit of Water and Wastewater Infrastructure

INAC (2015), Summative Evaluation of the Education Facilities and Other Community Infrastructure Sub Programs (Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program)

INAC (2017), Water in First Nation communities

INAC (2017), 3 steps for resolving drinking water issues in First Nation communities 

INAC (2017), Protocols and guidelines for water systems

INAC (2017), Drinking water advisories: First Nations south of 60

INAC (2017), First Nations Profiles, at, and, accessed 20 November 2017.

Prime Minister (28 August 2017), New Ministers to support the renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples

Prime Minister (n.d.), Minister of Indigenous Services Mandate Letter

INAC 2017-18 Departmental Plan (March 2017), Program 3.4 – Infrastructure and Capacity

INAC Report on Plans and Priorities 2016-17 (March 2016), Sub-Program 3.4.1 – Water and Wastewater

Health Canada (2010), Ensuring Safe Drinking Water in First Nations Communities in Canada, at, accessed 22 November 2017

Health Canada (2015), Health Promotion – Reports and Publications (with 14 on Drinking Water Quality, at, accessed 22 November 2017

Health Canada (2017), Drinking water advisories – First Nations south of 60, at, accessed 22 November 2017

Health Canada, 2017-18 Departmental Plan (March 2017), Programs 3.1 and 3.3

INAC (2007), Summative Evaluation of the First Nations Water Management Strategy

Ontario Environment and Energy (2018), Map: Well Records

Community-specific Web links: Example – The Mississaugas of Skugog Island First Nation (MSIFN)

INAC First Nation Profile:, accessed 21 November 2017.

Google map view:,-78.8810773,3a,75y,255.43h,114.24t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sB0xHdgxwt9jCCLWLOjvY7w!2e0!7i13312!8i6656, accessed 21 November 2017.

MSIFN Financial Statements (31 March 2016), and previous years, at, accessed 21 November 2017.

MSIFN website:, accessed 21 November 2017.

MSIFN announcement (15 August 2017), DRINKING WATER ADVISORIES FINALLY COMING TO AN END, at, accessed 21 November 2017.

Global News (15 August 2017), Feds providing $4.3M for new water treatment plant at Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, at, accessed 23 November 2017.

INAC website on Boil water advisories (21 November 2017),, accessed 21 November 2017.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 17 March 2018.

Image: INAC, Water in First Nation communities, at, accessed 23 November 2017.