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Summer 2023

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Summer 2023

  • 7 min read

Quarterly Newsletter

Summer 2023

The latest news and updates on our programs.


New Drinking Water Internship collaboration with Ogemawahj Tribal Council

We have some exciting news! Last month, Water First proudly launched our fifth Drinking Water Internship Program, in partnership with Ogemawahj Tribal Council.

In the first week of the program, the seven interns gathered in Rama First Nation to begin their journey to becoming certified water treatment operators. The week started out with the interns learning about and participating in a water ceremony, and then they dove right into learning about watersheds, water sources, pollutants and contaminants. ⁠One highlight of the first week was a tour of the Rama First Nation water distribution system and the drinking water treatment plant with Chad McRae, the Overall Responsible Operator. 

This is just the start of the 15-month internship, and there is a lot of learning to come. Watch for updates as we go!

Adaptability in action

Water First has been partnering with Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation over the past few years on water science programs, and we’re continuing to build a strong relationship. Our visit to the community in June was going to be a major milestone: for the first time in our history, all three Water First program areas – the Schools Program, the Environmental Water program, and the Drinking Water program – were set to be happening in the same community at the same time. What an incredible opportunity for collaboration and inspiration!

Mason Prout, Water First’s Communications & Development Specialist, made the trip to Sagamok Anishnawbek to help the Schools program deliver water science workshops at the local school. Little did Mason know that things wouldn’t exactly go according to plan…and that he would get to witness the amazing adaptability of his Water First colleagues and the people in the community.

Building skills, confidence, and connection with Remote First Aid training

The Water First Environmental Water team spends a lot of their time in remote settings without cell service or easy access to deliver water science projects and training. To make sure they are prepared for an emergency, the team gathered at Mansfield Outdoor Centre in Mulmur, Ontario to take the Canadian Red Cross Remote First Aid course.

The team spent two days together learning essential life-saving skills and practicing first aid techniques – from using an AED and administering CPR, to transporting injured people and treating conditions like heat stroke and hypothermia. Not only did the training enhance the team’s ability to respond in an emergency situation, it also instilled a sense of confidence in everyone’s own capabilities.

Most Water First staff work remotely, so in-person gatherings like this give everyone a chance to connect. Beth Wright, Technical Trainer & Communications Coordinator, embraced the chance to get to know her colleagues better. As she says, “When people feel comfortable and connected, they’re more likely to share ideas, express concerns, and collaborate smoothly.”

National Indigenous History Month and Pride Month:
A celebration of history and diversity

In June, Water First joined people across Canada and the globe to celebrate National Indigenous History Month and Pride Month. 

As an organization dedicated to working with Indigenous communities in Canada to address the water crisis through education and training, we decided to showcase our ongoing journey to learn about Indigenous histories and diverse perspectives all month long.

We also celebrated the Indigenous youth and young adults who participate in our programs, community partners, Knowledge Holders, educators, water scientists, and everyone else we engage with in support of safe water.

With Pride, we wanted to show our respect and care for people in the Two-Spirit and LGBTQIA+ community – whether they are on our staff, in the communities we partner with, or part of the network of friends and champions who support our work.

Are you on a learning journey too? Check out some of the resources we’ve pulled together. We are always adding to this list. If you have a resource to share with us, please let us know!

Schools Program making new connections across Canada

Fort Chipewyan

Délı̨nę First Nation
Northwest Territories

Kuujjuaq Inuit Community

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation)
British Columbia

Kangirsuk Inuit Village

Boston Bar First Nation
British Columbia

Water First recognized with Water Canada Downstream Award

Water First was the recipient of the 2023 Water Canada Downstream Award at the annual Canadian Water Summit in Ottawa! ⁠This award recognizes a program or project that is driving greater diversity in the water sector and addressing the skills shortage.⁠ 

Keegan Smith, a Project Manager at Water First, was on hand to accept the award and say a few words.

“The Indigenous communities we work with are strengthening their capacity to manage and protect their waters for generations to come. Water First are honoured to be helpers in this mission. We’re grateful to be recognized for our work through the Downstream Award. Not only does this reflect the hard work and dedication of our staff, it also reflects the hard work and dedication of the Indigenous youth and young adults in our programs.”

Photo of Water's Next award recipients.

Summer greetings from Water First!

It took a lot of coordination, but we managed to gather almost the entire Water First team together in person for an in-depth Indigenous education training session in Nottawa, ON. 

From all of us, thank you for being a supporter and champion of Water’s First mission. Best wishes for a wonderful summer!

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Water plant operator in the office