Pic Mobert Chief Wayne Sabourin tastes the water at the grand opening ceremony for the community’s new water treatment plant on June 21.

Pic Mobert Chief Wayne Sabourin tastes the water at the grand opening ceremony for the community’s new water treatment plant on June 21.

By Rick Garrick

PIC MOBERT—Pic Mobert First Nation celebrated the grand opening of its new water treatment plant on June 21 with a tour of the “state-of-the-art plant” and samples of water.

“It was awesome — I can finally say that I can drink water from Pic Mobert’s taps, which I’ve never done for a long time,” says Pic Mobert Chief Wayne Sabourin. “When we were kids we drank water out of the lake. You can’t do that today with all the pollution that is dumped into our waters,” added Sabourin.

Pic Mobert Councillor Thurston Kwissiwa says he has not drank water from the community’s water taps since he was a teenager.

“To me, it’s a great accomplishment, not only for this generation here, but for upcoming generations who we always work for,” Kwissiwa says, noting the community worked for about 20 years to get a new water treatment plant.

“That’s what makes us feel more proud of it. We suffered for long enough. There are other things that are going to be coming up that we are going to have to work on, (but) this is one of our main first big goals,” continued Kwissiwa.

The federal government provided more than $13 million for the project while the community provided about $61,250.

“All Canadians should expect access to safe, clean and reliable drinking water,” says Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, in a press release. “I would like to congratulate Pic Mobert First Nation on the grand opening of its new water treatment plant today. We look forward to working with First Nation communities across Canada to address water and wastewater issues and fulfill our commitment to end long-term drinking water advisories on reserves within five years.”

Kwissiwa was proud to see that about half of the community members participated in the grand opening.

“And what I really liked was the eagle flying over and giving us praise for the work that we’ve done,” Kwissiwa says. “Somebody is watching over us, and I believe somebody will continue to do so.”

Sabourin says the new water treatment plant has all of the bells and whistles. It is a reverse-osmosis plant that includes nano filtration technology. The community expects all of its homes to be connected to the new water treatment plant within the next week or so.

“After all these years it’s good to finally be able to enjoy what other Canadians enjoy without having to worry about boiling your water or having to rely on water men to bring your water,” says Pic Mobert Councillor Louis Kwissiwa. “It’s an everyday necessity, so it feels good.”

Pic Mobert Councillor John Kwissiwa says it was good to see Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare and all of the community members and government and company representatives at the grand opening.

“To me, it is important that we celebrate good (events) in our First Nation,” John says. “We deserve all of this. And I think in the future we are going to see more.”

Hare appreciated the opportunity to celebrate the opening of the new water treatment plant.

“In the number of years I’ve been involved in Anishinaabe politics, our communities are moving and this is a good example,” Hare says. “It’s just sad that they had to wait so long and be under a boil-water advisory. This is the proudest day for any leader, when you can cut a ribbon.”

Sabourin says the community is also planning the grand opening of two hydro projects that have already been commissioned.

“Right now they’re producing power,” Sabourin says. “That is the future.”

Pic Mobert also celebrated the opening of a Cultural Centre and the signing of a Land and Larger Land Base agreement on June 21.