Oneida Nation of the Thames had to conserve water over Christmas thanks to a drinking water crisis that still plagues the community this month.
The Oneida Nation continued its state of emergency into January as water levels have fluctuated with critically low levels to extremely high levels in a very short time frame.
On Dec. 15, 2022, community members were asked to cease use of all non-essential use of water over the holiday period.
While the conserve water notice has now been lifted, the state of emergency and the boil water advisory remain in effect.
“I want to commend Oneida staff who worked tirelessly over the holidays and community members for doing their part, working together to get us through such a critical period.” said Chief Todd Cornelius, elected Chief of Oneida Nation of the Thames. “Quantity issues are being closely monitored and our quality issues are far from being resolved. Our community simply wants the basic human right of clean drinking water.”
The Oneida Emergency Control Group met with representatives from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), Emergency Management Ontario, Public Safety Canada, the City of London, Middlesex County, and the Ministry of Natural Resources to create short-term relief; including expensive external water truck deliveries.
The long-term solution, however, remains a long, drawn-out process and has yet to be determined, Oneida said in a press release.
“There has been unprecedented response from both media and the public, with invitations sent to government officials to come to the table with a meaningful solution with little to no response.” says Pam Tobin, Chief Executive Officer of Oneida. “This is simply unacceptable.”
A boil water advisory has been in effect on the Oneida Public Water System since September 2019 and became long term in September 2020.
The advisory affects 546 homes and 22 community buildings. Since the announcement of the state of emergency, public outcry has mounted with several social media campaigns and a call to action to contact local Members of Parliament. Water and monetary donations continue to pour in from the public to the Oneida Nation of the Thames bottled water delivery program.
Oneida Nation of the Thames continues to ask the public to support the need for clean drinking water by contacting their local Members of Parliament to voice their opinion and address the issue.
The Oneida Nation of the Thames is home to over 2,000 residents and has a total membership of over 6,000 located across Canada and the United States. Established in 1840, as the “Oneida Settlement” the Oneida people as Onyota’a:ka, “People of the Standing Stone.”
The Oneida Nation Settlement is in southwestern Ontario and borders the eastern shore of the Thames River 30 kilometers south of the London.