Access 2 Clean Water (A2CW)
$21,711 of $23,000 goal
Access 2 Clean Water
Superior Dreams Inc Canada
Access 2 Clean Water is an initiative brought on by the on-going First Nation’s water crisis. Currently, there are at least 97 long-term water boil advisories in 81 First Nation communities across Canada. We plan to bring nation-wide awareness to this issue by running from Vancouver, BC to Ottawa, ON to let people know of the injustice that the people of this land face. Along the run, we aim to connect with First Nations communities to work alongside them to bring them access to clean water.
April 10th 2017
This initiative will be accomplished in three phases:
Phase 1 - Spread awareness of the water crisis by running across Canada
Phase 2 - Initiate partnerships with First Nations organizations and community groups during and after the run
Phase 3 - Pursue research to build a water plant*
After Phase 1 and 2, we aim to formulate a sustainable plan for the communities currently under “Do Not Consume” and “Water Boil” Advisories. This includes, and is not limited to, partnering with current post-secondary institutions to send students to gather data on current living situations, the land’s terrain status and it’s potential for new infrastructure, and whether a water plant can help enhance the lives of the residents.
This research will be formulated into another proposal that will include a blueprint for the new water plant, all costs associated with this project, and research showcasing improvement to the livelihood of those affected by the crisis. Current targeted programs are, but not limited to, Civil, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering, Water Resource Management, Psychology, Public Health and Nursing.
*None of this can be accomplished without the consent of the communities themselves. For this task, our goal is to partner with pre-existing organizations such as the Assembly of First Nations or the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, and other organizations passionate towards the cause in addition to the people of the communities that have been affected.
Where will the $23,000 go?
The money raised from this GoFundMe campaign will be used for the operational costs of launching and maintaining this initiative. The budget is outlined in the picture below and feel free to sponsor items of your choice. Please also include your information during the donation process if you would like a shoutout from the runner. The reason for setting the campaign amount to $23,000 is because of the fees GoFundMe has in place and other emergency costs that might occur during the whole initiative.
Not having access to clean water isn't something new. Unfortunately, it has existed in the lives of many First Nations people for decades, if not longer. Some communities have been on a “Water Boil Advisory” for more than 20 years! Imagine if you came back from a long day’s of hard work, got home, and realize that you had not boiled water earlier that day – and now, you have to wait about 15 minutes to get the water boiling so you can finally quench your thirst. If you’re lucky, you would have some ice cubes in the fridge – to make that warm water cool – but if you had forgotten that task too, you’re out of luck.
Yes, it is hard to imagine something like that happening in Canada. Living in glorified cities such as Toronto, Ottawa, and Vancouver, or even small towns like Fort McMury or Kenora, it is inconceivable. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like where one would open their tap, and find either dirty water or water that is not consumable. The population fortunate to live in areas that allow them to have instant access to unlimited... yes, unlimited clean, running water - is truly a blessing.
Under the Canadian government, individual territorial governments are responsible for safe drinking water in all communities including First Nations and Inuit communities. Responsibility for providing water and wastewater services to First Nations is shared among band councils, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Health Canada and Environment Canada. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada provides funding and advice on water facilities and sets standards and protocols. According to “Guidelines for Canadian drinking water quality”, Health Canada works with First Nation communities by providing scientific support and expertise.
A major role of Health Canada is to provide First Nation communities with the knowledge to monitor their own water by providing funding to Chief and Councils in community-based water programs. An advantage in having communities test their own water is that these communities can test for microbiological contamination frequently.
Health Canada trains community members to sample and test drinking water for contamination and if an Environmental Health Officer deems the water as contaminated, Chief and Councils are notified to issue boil water advisories. Under ideal circumstances, Health Canada would be responsible for reviewing plans for new water treatment plants from a public health perspective and assist First Nations in siting development. However, there is no monitoring on what type of training is provided and where the funding is allocated. As of October 31, 2016, there are 133 drinking water advisories in effect in 90 First Nations communities across Canada, excluding British Columbia. It is ultimately up to governments to ensure citizens have access to basic necessities. That's what taxes are intended for. The government of Canada, through complex history, legislation and funding, has specific responsibilities for First Nation communities. They have had many years of information, experience, and opportunities to prevent or provide remediation for the water situation but, they have failed miserably when it comes to aboriginal people.
Having access to clean, running water has more benefits than just being able to drink on will. It allows us to bathe, wash our dishes, and make our food. Therefore, not only is running water essential for keeping ourselves hydrated, but a key ingredient in our cleanliness, meal preparation, and livelihoods.
For more information about the runner or the initiative, feel free to visit our website at www.a2cw.org
On November 9th, Hasan Syed reached Ottawa at Parliament Hill and courageously concluded Phase 1. We are now pleased to inform you that we are in the process of launching Phase II of the campaign, which includes the following:
a) Creating user friendly map on our website that showcases all the First Nations communities that are currently under a boil water advisory;
b) Continue raising awareness across Canada in various communities through speaking engagements and presentations;
c) Planning a "National Day of Awareness", to be announced soon, in all Canadian post-secondary institutions regarding the lack of access to clean water in many First Nations communities
If you have a moment please consider checking our Facebook video of the event:
We once again would like to humbly convey our appreciation for your continued support. We would not have been able to reach this far without you.
Water, a basic human right we as Canadians enjoy, is something I had not given any second thought to until I recently discovered that an astounding 73% of our First Nations communities have water systems that are at a medium or high risk of water contamination. Even as I speak to you today, First Nations communities are dealing with vulnerabilities to sickness and loss of life due to inaccessibility of clean water. I could have never thought that would be something people living in Canada would be struggling with. My name is Hasan Syed and on April 10, 2017, I decided to run across Canada to bring awareness to the First Nation water crisis.
I have been on this journey for around 50 days now, and although it hasn't been easy, I am not ready to give up. Not today, not tomorrow, not until I make it to Ottawa and I'm given an opportunity to speak with the federal government and have my voice heard.
My original plan was to cover 50 km a day in 10 hours, and then to find a stop to camp for the night. I did not know what I was up for! I am not a runner and I did not do any training prior to starting this run. After my first day on the road, and only being able to finish about 24 km, I realized that my body was not ready to perform the assigned 50 km. We also realized that it’s not feasible to camp along the highway or on crown land due to weather conditions, which has also been detrimental to my daily runs.
The lack of volunteers has also been a large factor for how and when I run. It determines how many kilometers I can get in and where and how long I can stay in a place for. Unfortunately, having a lack of volunteers was not accounted for in the initial planning. No drivers meant that I wouldn't have the safety of someone tailing me while I ran. Despite this, I was not ready to give up. With my team, we developed a new strategy where I would have to park the car and run inside the city to cover up the kilometers required to move to the next city. Running inside the city allowed me to meet and interact individuals in the city, invite people to share a kilometer or two of running, and start conversations about what I was doing and why I was doing it.
Another obstacle that I did not see coming was the situation with my running shoes. I realized that the shoes I had were brand new and not broken in. Due to daily running – I started getting blisters on my feet, some that even persisted for 3 weeks, which prevented me from running on some days, or to take more breaks. On a few occasions, I ran inside to keep my feet open and to maintain my endurance and continue the run. I did this for as long as I could, but the blisters didn’t heal and instead got worse. Running inside also proved to be more difficult than being outside as my body had to make more turns, which all accumulated to more damage to my knees and ankles. Regardless, I continued until I couldn’t anymore, and eventually, I got better and I was able to continue running outside again.
The driving situation has been another big revelation for me. Having a driver drive with me on highways meant I was running through gas very quickly. For every 100 km, I needed 60 liters of gas, which was very costly since we had to go outside the city to run, then come back into the city to sleep.
After going through all these findings and the limited donations we currently have, I realized that it’s best to spend about 3-4 days on the highway if I have a driver. Then, for the next 10 days, I park the car and run in the city and focus on community engagement.
As I work my way through my obstacles and my findings, I am never, even for a nano-second, forgetful of the generosity of the donors and hosts who have made this possible for me. Throughout my struggles, the purpose remains very clear. Canada needs to know what our First Nations communities are going through and how urgently they need our help. And I will keep on running until their voices are heard.
Although I am behind schedule on my run and am now expecting to get to Ottawa by October, I have not given up hope on the generosity of Canadians to support my journey, and advocate for First Nations communities that are struggling to access clean water.
If you donate to A2CW today, you are helping me run across Canada to meet with communities and raise awareness about the crisis. You are bringing me a step closer to meeting politicians at Parliament Hill and bringing this conversation to the table. Your donations are bringing us, as Canadians, a step closer to addressing a crisis that is impacting the quality of life and health of First Nations communities across Canada.
Thank you for your support so far, and I will be sure to update any new findings I discover along this journey. Today I am 700 km in, and your donations have the power to make my vision come true. Become a part of my historic journey, as I run across Canada.
- Hasan Syed