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Our Land, Our Water

This beautiful video was made by McKaylii Jawbone from Témiscaming, Quebec, a member of Kebaowek First Nation. McKaylii is one of the alumni from a 2-year restoration project in partnership with Kebaowek First Nation. Three large walleye spawning shoals were constructed at restoration sites identified in consultation with community elders, … Read More

Sunny Payash, Grassy Narrows First Nation

Sunny’s motivation to join the Water First Internship program was because he lost two nieces due to the mercury contamination in the English River. 

News of the Water First Internship program came to Sunny through a poster that a friend handed him. He signed up immediately. When he got the … Read More

Screenshot of Ryan teaching over video conferencing.

Update on Drinking Water Internship — Bimose

At the time of our last newsletter we were pivoting our Internship program to remote and interactive online programming. Now that our interns have a few months of online learning experience we have settled into a routine. Each week, the interns receive a Mission Pack. It includes the week’s lesson, … Read More

Photo of a lake

An Anishinabek Perspective on Nibi (Water)

By: Ogamauh annag (Sue Chiblow)

Aniin, Boozhoo, Ogamauh annag qwe dishnecuz, jijauk dodem, Ketegaunzeebee donjeba, Anishinaabe, Ojibway indow. My English or status card name is Susan Bell Chiblow, most know me as Sue Chiblow and I was born and raised by my dad in Garden River First Nation with 4 … Read More

Amy Waboose, Water First Internship graduate, at work in her home community.

First Nations skills-training program has partnership at heart

Though it’s relatively well known that many First Nations communities don’t have access to clean drinking water, the complicated reasons why – and relevant solutions – are less than obvious. The Trudeau government is working to end all long-term drinking water advisories, prevent short-term advisories from becoming long-term and improve … Read More

Take the clean water challenge

Take the Clean Water Challenge

Water First is calling on you to take part in the Clean Water Challenge! Help us show support for essential workers by thanking your local water treatment operators who provide clean drinking water straight to your tap. 

Here’s the challenge:

Read More

Noah Mokoush, Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach

Photo of Noah Mokoush

“We can make a difference by bringing the information we have learned back to the community,” shares Noah Mokoush. 

Over the years, Noah has been inspired to take on community education projects. Everything from local concerns about stray dogs to diabetes studies and environmental projects. He shows his care through … Read More

Lawrence Mameanskum, Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach

Photo of Lawrence.

“I started working with Water First because I want to gain more knowledge about restoration and water quality analysis,” shares Lawrence Mameanskum. 

Lawrence is a Water First Environmental Intern from Kawawachikamach. He has been working on water quality and restoration projects for Naskapi Nation in partnership with Water First. Last … Read More

Jamie Lee Parenteau, Water First Intern, Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation

Water plant operators have an essential role

The last few weeks have been an interesting challenge. And to be honest, Water First is still navigating our new reality. We realize more than ever how our focus on building meaningful partnerships over the past 10 years truly makes a difference today. 

Recently, an intern shared their pride in … Read More

News release: Bimose Tribal Council and Water First Announce New Internship to Address Water Challenges in First Nations Communities

Next Generation of Indigenous Water Treatment Workers Are Finding Solutions Through Training in Water Trades and Sciences

The Bimose Tribal Council in northwestern Ontario and Canadian charity Water First Education & Training Inc. announce their partnership to deliver a drinking water treatment and environmental water management internship program for young … Read More

Empowering First Nations youth to develop a passion for water science

Over the past number of months, Water First has been creating a new school-aged youth education pilot project, Growing Roots. Through this project, Water First is partnering with different communities to expand our youth water science education programming to maximize the involvement of Indigenous youth, leading to long-term environmental action … Read More

Out on the lake in Naskapi

New environmental project kicks-off in northern Quebec

This past spring, Water First and Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, located in northern Quebec near the border of Labrador, started a collaboration on a new environmental project. 

This three-year project includes both a contaminant study to establish baseline mercury and heavy metals concentrations in the soil, water, and traditionally harvested … Read More

Student from Wahgoshig First Nation checking water sample results

A Paws-itive Tree Plant at Wahgoshig First Nation

Water First returned to Joseph H. Kennedy Public School in the summer of 2019 for more water science workshops and another watershed remediation project. However, when the students arrived at the chosen tree-planting location, the Water First truck was stuck on a muddy road somewhere else.

Without any tree planting … Read More

Students from Quinte Mohawk school using water science tools.

Quinte Mohawk students become water stewards

This past May, students from Quinte Mohawk School became stewards of the water. Students from multiple grades learned how to analyze the water quality of their school’s onsite wetland with Water First staff. They also learned about the impact of human activity on the health of the water and the … Read More

Water First Intern Mckaylii Jawbone out on the lake

We called ourselves The Food Crew

Written by McKaylii Jawbone of Kebaowek First Nation, Water First Intern

I was a part of a two-year project to restore and enhance walleye spawning habitats in my community. Working with Ivan and Kacie made the project run so smoothly, we worked well as a team and we always had … Read More

Picture of walleye under water

Put the big fish back… and other fish facts

Walleye spawn in the spring as soon as the ice is out by depositing eggs over rocks and cobble shoals. The fertilized eggs fall into the cracks and spaces between the rocks to safely incubate and hatch.

Female walleye can carry up to 26,000 eggs per pound of body weight. … Read More

Kacie McLaren, Kebaowek First Nation

Water First Intern: Kacie McLaren

Youngest of the group, 23 year-old Kacie McLaren is an Algonquin from Kebaowek First Nation. She has an Environmental Technician diploma from Canadore college. She heard about the fish habitat restoration project from her dad, and decided to apply because as an environmentalist she is passionate about protecting mother nature.… Read More

Ivan Polchinski, Kebaowek First Nation

Water First Intern: Ivan Polchinski

Before starting the restoration project, Ivan was working with Land Management at Kebaowek First Nation in various forestry-related jobs. As the mentor of the group, Ivan shared extensive knowledge about the traditional lands and waterways surrounding the community.

He said that he applied for the mentor position because it gave … Read More

McKaylii Jawbone, Kebaowek First Nation

Water First Intern: Mckaylii Jawbone

“Not only did we want to make a difference in the Kipawa Lake fishery, but we also wanted to learn about our land and all the ways we can help preserve the ecosystem; and through this project we were able to accomplish that and much more.”

25 year-old McKaylii Jawbone, … Read More

Kendra, Naomi and Eric presenting at the AFN Water Symposium

Alumni Update

Since graduating, the Interns have been meeting regularly to stay connected, to improve the program, and to pave the way for future interns. They recognize what a powerful experience they have had and want to support future cohorts to be even more successful.

Water First has recently implemented a Professional … Read More

United Nations World Water Day logo

Today is World Water Day

Today, Friday March 22nd, marks World Water Day. This year’s theme is “Leaving no one behind,” which speaks to the fact that in 2019, there remain billions of people around the world without access to safe, clean water. In Canada, many Indigenous communities remain without such access.

One of the … Read More

Water First and Science Literacy Week 2018 with Saugeen First Nation

Roots are claws that hold the earth in place

Waterside tree planting is important both to the local waterways and the people who live adjacent to them. Tree roots hold onto soil, preventing unnatural amounts of sand and dirt from entering the water systems, which can have a negative impact downstream and damage aquatic ecosystems. Trees provide organic material … Read More

Cover of photography book "Drought"

“Drought” by Peter Hadfield & Cameron McKaque

A collaboration between Toronto-based cinematographer and photographer Peter Hadfield and graphic designer Cameron McKague has created a stunning book featuring 48 images of drained public swimming pools. The project is a critical exploration of Western society’s relationship with water and all proceeds will come to Water First.

Visit for … Read More

Water First staff and internship graduates at the 24th Annual Aboriginal Water and Wastewater Association of Ontario Training Conference and Tradeshow in Thunder Bay, Ontario

Water First at AWWAO Conference

On January 29-31, 2019, Water First team members attended the 24th Annual Aboriginal Water and Wastewater Association of Ontario (AWWAO) Training Conference and Tradeshow in Thunder Bay, Ontario. 

Two graduates of the Water First Internship program, now Operators-In-Training at their communities’ water treatment plants attended the conference. Water First also … Read More

Tree planting with youth from Matachewan First Nation

Water Tree at Matachewan First Nation

This past October, Water First collaborated with Matachewan First Nation to deliver a series of educational workshops at the local school and a tree-planting field trip in the community.

Students in the Indigenous program at Kirkland Lake District Composite school joined those from the First Nation to plant pine and … Read More

Water Canada Magazine

Internship program profiled in Water Canada magazine

The Water First Internship Program was featured in the January/February 2019 edition of Water Canada, a publication dedicated to covering a range of Canadian water issues. This edition of the magazine focused specifically on issues impacting Indigenous communities, as well as the work of individuals, communities and organizations addressing … Read More

Report cover for Achieving a Sustainable Future

Water First Internship Highlighted as Innovative Initiative in Government of Canada Sustainable Development Report

In October 2018, Environment and Climate Change Canada released a report detailing the Government of Canada’s efforts in realizing the 13 aspirational goals set out in its 2016 to 2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.

For each goal, the report sets out why each goal is important, overall progress made towards … Read More

Water First Interns and Advisors

Make a real difference to a long-standing problem

I was so proud to see the 10 interns graduate.

Not only because we had been through so much together over the last 15 months. And not only because I knew how much they had learned and grown both personally and professionally. But because looking at these 10 smiling and … Read More

Students at a Water First GUSH workshop

Schools are getting on board with GUSH!

With the 2018/2019 school year underway, we are starting to book GUSH educational workshops in school boards across southern Ontario.

Last school year, GUSH workshops were delivered over 375 times, reaching over 9,000 students in Ontario. GUSH Workshops introduce Grade 7 and 8 students to the challenges many First Nation … Read More

Water First Internship graduates

News release: Indigenous youth graduate from Water First Internship Program

Ten youth from seven First Nations achieve certifications to address drinking water and environmental water challenges

Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation, Manitoulin Island – Ten Indigenous youth were honoured this morning for successfully completing the Water First Internship Program at a graduation ceremony held on the powwow grounds of Aundeck … Read More

Water First: Birchmount's Walk for Water

Birchmount’s Walk for Water

This past April, Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute held a Water Walk to raise awareness about the lack of access to safe, clean water. The Toronto District School Board published an article about it online. You can find the update here, or read it below.


Recently, staff and students … Read More

Water First Interns using Esri software

Internship Program: Blending Traditional Ecological Knowledge with Cutting Edge Technology

Water First Interns from across Manitoulin Island were brought together for a week in May to explore traditional knowledge along with new technologies.

Interns heard from guest speakers about traditional ecological knowledge and Elders discussed the changes in the migratory patterns of fish and animals. Elders shared their observations about … Read More

Shout Sister Choir logo

Fundraising concert to benefit Water First

Shout Sister Choir has chosen Water First as their non-profit of choice for two upcoming fundraising concerts in York region. The first event is Saturday June 9, 2018 at Eastridge Evangelical Church in Whitechurch-Stouffville. The second will be on Tuesday June 12, 2018 at Victory Baptist Church in East Guillimbury. … Read More

Water First: Water Quality Study

Minister’s Annual Report on Drinking Water 2017

At the end of last year, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change published it’s annual report that provides an overview of the work Ontario is doing to protect drinking water. Through the Ontario Community Environment Fund, Water First has received grants to help improve drinking water in nine … Read More

Alex Cartagena, Sheshegwaning First Nation

Alex Cartagena has worked a lot of jobs since high school – in carpentry, in forestry, and at the quarry. When that last job at the quarry ended due to a shutdown, he found himself unemployed, with two children and bills to pay.

The Water First Internship is a ticket … Read More

Alex Nahwegahbow, Whitefish River First Nation

Alex Nahwegahbow obtained is Operator-In-Training certification and Water Quality Analyst certification, two goals that he set out at the start the internship. “This is a great opportunity,” he said. “I like this work, and it’s a good job to get into.”

Alex completed one year of a Police Foundations diploma … Read More

Amy Waboose, Whitefish River First Nation

“A lot of people are oblivious about the water,” says Amy Waboose. “But for our culture, water is life. It’s important, and I try to teach my son the same.”

Amy is now working full time at the Whitefish River First Nation Water Treatment plant as an Operator-in-Training and Water … Read More

Cassidy Beaudin, M’Chigeeng First Nation

An avid outdoorsman, Cassidy Beaudin is keen to turn his Water First Internship experience into a job as a treatment plant operator.

“Water is the key to life, I’ve always known how important it is,” he said. “And I really like being part of making clean water.”

After graduating high … Read More

Chelsea Antoine Debassige, Zhiibaahaasing First Nation

When Chelsea Antoine Debassige first heard about the Water First Internship and the training it provides, she thought, “What on earth is a water quality analyst?”

The Water First Internship has given Chelsea a chance to work in her home community (the most remote on Manitoulin Island). Chelsea is currently … Read More

Dallas Goodfellow, Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation

Dallas Goodfellow was born in Sault Ste. Marie, and moved to Aundeck Omni Kaning (AOK) when he was in Grade 3. He had a job at the AOK water treatment plant while he was in high school, and has worked since high school at a local fish farm.

The Water … Read More

Naomi Mandamin, Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory

Naomi Mandamin was born in Sudbury, and moved to Wiikwemkoong when she was in Grade 5. As a result, she says with a smile, “I’m not a bush person, I’m a city girl.”

She’s also been fascinated with science for as long as she can remember. “I’ve always wanted to … Read More

Paige Manitowabi, Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory

Paige Manitowabi is excited to take what she’s learning as a Water First intern and combine it with her growing interest in traditional Anishinaabe ways. That mix of knowledge, she thinks, could be the key to solving a lot of issues.

“It’s new knowledge – I’m learning a lot,” she … Read More

Eric Vautour, Sheguiandah First Nation

A young man with an activist’s heart, Eric Vautour has been involved with water and environmental issues since high school. As a teenager he worked on Sheguiandah’s Green Plan Project, a program that engaged youth in environmental actions like shoreline cleanups. Following high school, he did a contract as a … Read More

Chris Wemigwans, Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation

Chris Wemigwans saw the Water First Internship as a chance to learn valuable skills and lay the groundwork for a career in his home community. Chris was hired by Aundeck Omni Kaning (AOK) after the internship and is now working as an OIT at the local water treatment plant.

Born … Read More