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

An Effective Solution to a Long-Standing Problem

Access to clean, safe drinking water. It is easy to take this for granted — yet, this is not the reality for everyone in Canada.

In many First Nations communities, the issue of boil-water advisories has a clear association with the shortage of certified people to work in local water treatment plants. Indigenous communities do not receive comparable education, training and employment support when it comes to water science and management compared to the rest of the country. These supports are critical in ensuring the long-term sustainability of Indigenous water systems.

The Water First Internship was born from community feedback, guidance and partners coming together with a focus on training and education to create local solutions. The Internship trains primarily young, local Indigenous adults to become certified water treatment plant operators and to work within the environmental water field. Over the course of a 15-month paid internship opportunity, participants receive customized skills training and tutoring to obtain certification, along with on-the-job experience in their local water plants.

The ultimate goal of the Water First Internship is importantly linked to the crisis of boil-water advisories in First Nations communities across Canada.

Water First’s Internship Program, in collaboration with First Nations communities, is a part of this solution, offering meaningful outcomes to this ongoing challenge.

This is Just The Beginning

In response to the need to increase the number of fully trained water treatment operators, to prepare for the projected retirement of many current operators in the next five years, and to support more gender diversity in the field, the Internship Program has the opportunity to play a role in meaningfully shifting the challenges of access to clean drinking water in many communities.

  • I am grateful for everything water does.

    Eric Vautour, Internship Graduate

Over the next five years, Water First will be scaling up the Internship Program to reach an additional 75 First Nations communities — responding to the priorities of different communities across Ontario. We will continue to adapt the program to best address local drinking water concerns.

“I came here for a job, and ended here with a career.”

Amy Waboose, internship graduate

Watch our new video to learn more about how the Internship is providing a solution for clean water in First Nations communities.

The Communities

Click on an icon to learn a bit about the intern(s) in that community

Donor Profile

RBC Foundation

Launching Futures

RBC is striving to address the ‘no experience-no job, no job-no experience’ cycle affecting the current and the next generation of workers, and is why we’re excited to support the Water First Internship.

This empowering program provides Indigenous youth with critical skills development and hands-on experience helping them to gain access to meaningful employment, to help their communities prosper and to improve local economies.

Young people are entering the workforce at a time of profound economic, social and technological change requiring a new mix of skills and it is through innovative programs like this that our future leaders will be prepared to succeed and thrive.


Water First is excited to work with our donors like RBC, to scale up the Internship Program to reach even more partner communities.