A band member from the Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation’s work to protect his community and provide them with safe and clean water is being honoured and recognized by the federal government.

Brian Indian of Onigaming First Nation has been awarded the 2022 National First Nations Water Leadership Award, recognizing his 17 years of service as one of the community’s only certified water operators.

“My favourite part of the day is in the morning, looking at the data and seeing that everything ran the way it is supposed to and the community’s water is safe and potable to consume,” said Brian, after hearing the news.

Indigenous Services Canada says the award recognizes individuals that have demonstrated leadership and outstanding dedication to the advancement of safe and clean drinking water in First Nation communities.

Brian says he’s currently mentoring two operators-in-training as he hasn’t been able to take any time off, but currently suffers from Parkinson’s disease.

But he’s still working each day, advocating for upgrades to the community’s 16-year-old water treatment system with obsolete parts and continues to organize ‘Water Awareness’ days to educate youth in the community and provide tours of their water treatment plant – showing his dedication to his position.

"Your work is critical to ensuring Onigaming has access to safe and clean drinking water,” says federal Minister of Indigenous Services, Patty Hajdu.

“Your dedication, years of expertise and mentorship to younger community members are an inspiration to other water operators across the country. Thank you for your service, Brian, and congratulations!”

Indigenous Services Canada says a $10,000 bursary to First Nations individuals interested in a career in the water and wastewater industry will be made available in Brian’s name.

Brian also received a trophy, a piece of Indigenous artwork and a pin designed by an Indigenous company. He was chosen for the award by an advisory committee of First Nations partners.