How can it be that some indigenous communities are still and still deprived of something as essential and vital as drinking water?
This is the question as simple as it is deeply disturbing at the origin of The source of a failure, an enlightening documentary presented next Saturday as part of Doc humanity, on the airwaves of ICI Télé.
Think about it. Or rather no, since we don’t even think about it. For most of us, that goes without saying. Water is consumed mechanically, when waking up, in the shower, to brush your teeth or to prepare coffee. Day after day. This is not the case for many natives in the country who still live in almost medieval conditions.
A subject unfortunately far from new, brought here by Radio-Canada journalist Nassima Way, who nevertheless takes a fresh and no less critical look. Born in Algiers to Moroccan parents, raised in France, the journalist has lived in Canada for 20 years, in Calgary, to be precise. And ever since she set foot here, Indigenous issues have fascinated her. “The culture, the living conditions”, specifies in an interview the one who also has Berber origins.
“For me, it’s incomprehensible,” she explains in her soft voice, which also inhabits the entire report, directed by Jessica L’Heureux. Canada is a modern country, after all. How can we have people asking for access to clean water here? The only time I heard that was when I was on vacation in Algeria! »
Is it an infrastructure issue? Piping? In one of the richest countries in the world, with 20% of the fresh water reserves to boot? The journalist wanted to know, and therefore leaves, during the 40 minutes of the documentary, in search of the sources (no pun intended) of the problem.
We see her going to meet personalities from different communities (including one barely 10 minutes from downtown Calgary, nevertheless deprived of drinking running water), interview a university researcher, discuss with an Innu lawyer specializing in human rights even meet with former Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller in Ottawa. You have to hear him talk about the “colonial myth” and its “harmful effects on Indigenous communities”.
The surprise of the journalist – and especially her emotions – is also palpable. “There are mothers who have never bathed their children! »
Because according to her research, and several indigenous people interviewed, it’s very clear: “Their impression, she says, is that the hope of the public authorities at the time was that these people would leave their communities to to live in cities. What era, exactly? “Until 2000…”
“And I hope people will understand: they [natives] didn’t create this. […] At the level of the treaties, we made them promises that were not kept. »
She dares this very hard question: by depriving them of such a basic resource, “have we doomed them to failure”? She answers it in an interview without hesitation: “Yes, it’s hard, and I’m still moved, she confirms, because it’s not normal that I can have drinking water at home and that there are people for whom it is a daily quest. »
Note that you will only see a few images of brown water flowing from the tap in abundance. “The natives did not want us to show a miserable image of their community,” she says, acknowledging their calm and dignity.
Moreover, and even if she concludes with a “ball in the stomach”, Nassima Way remains hopeful. Some communities are very remote and their development will be difficult. “But there are some who are close, vibrant, with a new generation of young people who are working hard to make their community grow economically, socially and… healthily. »