Over 500 community members in Sachigo Lake First Nation have clean water in their homes for the first time since 2018, and the local Chief and Council are thanking the federal government.

Ottawa says the long-term boil water advisory affecting the community for over four years now ended in October, after $29 million worth of upgrades and expansions made to the community’s water treatment plant and distribution system over the last five years.

“As people of the land, we understand firsthand how clean water is the starting point to all life. For the people of Sachigo Lake First Nation, potable water from which we can drink, bathe and cook has been a long time in coming,” says Chief Robert Beardy.

Sachigo Lake First Nation, located about 425 km north of Sioux Lookout, has a registered population of 967 people with 537 people living on reserve.

“As Chief, I am pleased that finally today, I can tell community members that the water is good, the water is drinkable and that the clean water flowing from our taps takes us one step closer towards fairness and equity, safety and well-being,” adds Chief Beardy.

Ottawa has spent $5.6 billion to end 136 long-term drinking water advisories in First Nation communities since 2015. Still, 22 long-term advisories remain in 19 communities across the country.

Northwestern Ontario has the highest concentration of these affected communities in all of Canada, with 13 projects still underway.

The Liberal government originally committed to eliminating all long-term drinking water advisories by March 2021. The goal wasn’t reached, but another $1.5 billion was pledged to accelerate their work with a new goal of 2025.