Even though they’re desperately needed at Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, 30,000 bottles of Activate Vitamin Drinks had to be temporarily stored at the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Tuesday because the reserve is currently inaccessible by road.
Unique Foods Canada has donated the bottles because Shoal Lake 40 has been under a boil-water advisory for 18 years. Brands for Canada, a registered charity, dropped the bottles off Tuesday. Six off-duty police officers and other volunteers helped unload them.
“We couldn’t get the semi on the winter road because it would sink,” said Sharon Redsky, Ma Mawi’s fund developer and officer member of Shoal Lake 40.
The bottles will likely be delivered after the ice thaws in late April.
“(Donors) are doing it because they want to raise awareness about the issues at First Nation communities,” Redsky said. “We’ve got to find different ways to work together to address the human rights violations against not having access to clean, drinkable water.”
The bottles will have to be delivered by boat. Funding is in place for Freedom Road that will link the community of about 300 people to the land.
“But it’s probably going to take two or three years before they can actually drive across the road,” Redsky said. “Then, we’re going to have to go back to the federal government to advocate for a water treatment plant because there isn’t one in Shoal Lake.”
The estimated retail cost of one bottle is $4-$5.