Members of the Cowichan Tribes First Nation on Vancouver Island are relieved to finally have drinkable water coming from their taps, though some members are still going without.
Clean water is a necessity that many in Canada take for granted, but for 20 households on Indian Road in the First Nation on southern Vancouver Island, it’s only recently become accessible.
The houses were connected to the City of Duncan’s clean water supply about a month ago.
Cowichan Tribes member Adrienne Peter says the water from her well was unusable, and she remembers her father filling jugs of water at gas stations for 14 years.
More recently, the family had bottled water delivered to their home.
“Being able to drink from the tap is seriously like a whole change of life for us,” she said.
“When my babies were infants, [we] had to boil the water, let it cool and then fill up their bathtubs so that I could bathe them.”
Peter’s father, Bubba Qwulshemut, says the water that was available to them was foul.
“It tasted like salt, it’s fizzing like pop, it was just horrible,” he said.
“I mean, the kids were getting rashes from the water or mosquito bites would turn rancid.”
It’s estimated that 30 to 35 more homes in the area still don’t have access to clean water through their taps, and there’s no timeline yet on when those homes will be hooked up to a water system.
“We’re the biggest tribe in B.C. and it’s kind of crazy to think about,” said Edward Joe, a harm reduction coordinator for Cowichan Tribes.
“I always tell my friends, family or anyone in the Cowichan Valley here that there’s still tribes members who don’t have access to clean drinking water.”