November 22nd, 2017

Water issues exist close to home

By Martin, Tijana on November 13, 2017.

Tijana Martin

Lethbridge Herald

There are still communities across the country who do not have access to drinking water, even here in Alberta.

There are rural and remote communities – the majority of which are of Indigenous populations – that still struggling to find clean, potable drinking water.

This is a reality for many and University of Lethbridge professor Maura Hanrahan has been studying this problem.

She has been a faculty member in the U of L’s department of Native American studies for just over a year. Prior to that, she spent time working with Indigenous organizations.

Now, she is focusing her academic research on the state of water security in MŽtis communities in Alberta.

“Most of my career has been responding to community needs because that is a cultural imperative. The academic piece comes out of that and I see research as a very good way to highlight issues, such as drinking water problems, that need to be brought into the open,” she said in a press release.

“Water security is so basic. The United Nations recognizes it as a human right and yet Canada isn’t living up to its responsibilities in that regard.”

Recently, she was named the recipient of the Parkland Institute/U of L Faculty Research Grant.

“While the applications were all of a very high standard, Dr. Hanrahan’s proposal to study water quality and infrastructure in Alberta’s MŽtis communities is especially timely,” said Trevor Harrison, director of the Parkland Institute and a professor in the Department of Sociology in a press release.

“In Canada’s 150th year, it is crucial to acknowledge the disparities faced by First Nations, MŽtis, and Inuit peoples, and, as with Dr. Hanrahan’s research, to work towards understanding these inequities and finding solutions.”

The university has deemed her research as unique as there is a lack of research on water security issues that the Metis population in Alberta faces.

“When I looked in the literature there was absolutely nothing on MŽtis water security,” Hanrahan’s explained, noting that Alberta is home to more that 66,000 MŽtis and is the only province with MŽtis land bases.

“Water shortages are treated like an emergency when they happen in the south and in urban areas but not in rural and indigenous areas, where they are almost normalized. People are faced with these long-term boil-water orders and they get tired of it, so they begin to take chances with it.”

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