Okanagan Indian Band suing Canada over unsafe drinking water

tap water

The Okanagan Indian Band is taking the federal government to court over contaminated drinking water.

"The federal government has put the lives of our people at risk" said Okanagan Chief Byron Louis in a press release.

A 2011 assesment commisioned by the Conservatives found water systems on reserve posed significant risks to human health.

Over the last nine years, the band has been negotiating with Ottawa to improve local water infrastructure and ensure safety. But in all that time, they say only 1 of the 7 water systems on reserve has been upgraded.

"The federal government is simply not serious about safe drinking water for First Nations communities." said Louis. "If you can turn on the tap in Kelowna and not worry the water is safe, it should be the same in our community.”

The band is asking a federal court to confirm that First Nation's have a right to safe drinking water, and force the government into action.