The Climate Report 2017/18 - Page 15



E C O N O M I C A C T I V I T Y/ T R A N S P O R TAT I O N
The devastating legacy of colonialism, and the lack of local economies, has left many NAN First Nations suffering
from third-world living conditions. Unemployment is rampant, and there are few job opportunities in industry,
aside from forestry and mining.
Thirty-two of NAN’s 49 First Nations are remote and isolated, accessible only by air and a seasonal winter road
network for vital supplies of food, medicine and other necessities of life.
With a changing environment, commercial activity on the winter road network has been lowered to as few as 28
days per season in recent years; a significant reduction from being open 77 days-a-year a decade ago. This forces
First Nations to rely on air delivery of food, and medical and housing/infrastructure supplies, at significantly
increased costs.
H E A LT H
Nutritious food in remote First Nations is scarce and expensive. Many families cannot afford to feed their children
healthy food, which often costs 300-400% more than in urban centres. Unhealthy diets are linked to rates of
chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma, all of which are far above the provincial average.
WAT E R
Despite being surrounded by lakes and rivers, NAN communities still lack supplies of safe drinking water. As of
May 2017 there are 22 Drinking Water Advisories in NAN’s 49 First Nations – some have been in place for 20
years. Most water and wastewater infrastructure is outdated and operating above capacity. Flooding and
ground shifting puts additional demands on already strained systems.
ENERGY
Many remote First Nations are still not connected to the provincial energy grid and rely on diesel generation
for electrical power. Several communities have installed small solar and water power generating systems, but
remoteness and geographic challenges have hindered progress.
CARBON TRADING
Ontario has described NAN homelands as a “globally significant carbon sink”, but excludes First Nations from
meaningful involvement in policy discussion on carbon storage and carbon credits, even though a vast swath
of NAN homelands is being confiscated. NAN territory is a “globally significant carbon sink” with potential to
mitigate global climate change, but provincial legislation does not identify how these benefits will be
allocated to NAN First Nations as Ontario moves towards a cap and trade economy.
Image source: https://www.ontarionature.org/protect/habitat/boreal.php
13

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