Giving the Gift of Clean Water

Brian Csinos, Director of Experiential Learning, and Stephen Crowther, Chaplain
During the school year, there are a number of days where our community supports a chosen charity – we call them sharing days. On these sharing days, students bring a toonie (or whatever they can afford) and may dress down in their home clothes. The funds raised by our students is donated to that day's charity. On November 16, our community participated in a sharing day supporting the Pikangikum Water Project.

Pikangikum is a First Nations community in northwestern Ontario. The community came to national attention after a wave of youth suicides in 2011. The tragedy prompted a group of Toronto-based professionals to work with the Pikangikum elders and school system. This group, called the Pikangikum Working Group, identified 12 priorities for the community. The first priority was to get a new school, which opened in the fall of 2016. The second priority is clean water.

Of the 450 homes in the community, 415 (90%+) do not have water or wastewater services. Surface water sources (lakes and rivers) are vulnerable to contamination, as are in-home water storage systems. Inadequate and decrepit wooden outhouses are used by most residents. Most of the present homes do not have space or the structural integrity to support bathroom facilities.

Across Canada, Anglicans are supporting solutions for safe and accessible water in the First Nations community of Pikangikum, Ontario, through the Primate’s World Relief Development Fund (PWRDF). Several years ago, a HTS languages teacher, who is now retired, brought forth this issue to our Community. Her involvement and passion for this cause led to us dedicate a sharing day to raise awareness and funds for the water issue in Pikangikum.  

The goal is to provide a source of potable drinking water in Pikangikum homes, equipping the homes with a cistern to hold the water and a wastewater holding tank, as well as the necessary fixtures and fittings. Since 2013, more than $600,000 has been raised. Twenty-four homes have been equipped with clean water and wastewater removal facilities along with the skills/labour training and jobs that go with the system.

Phase 3 is currently underway in Pikangikum. It is the work of the Chief and Council, and is being funded by the money made available through the federal government’s matching of funds. PWRDF will continue to support Phase 4 of the project.

Thank you to our community for your donations that will give a living gift – clean water!