The Erminskine band of Hobbema, Alberta, is suing the Canadian Government for $270 million, accusing it of not providing adequate health and sanitation:

The native community alleges the government hasn’t ensured the necessities of life — including water — are available on the reserve. According to the statement of claim, the federal government has not funded a well upgrade or installed pipe necessary to carry water, so the band must continue to truck supplies in from a nearby community.

The statement also suggests programs by the Indian and Northern Affairs Department to reduce hunting and fishing have resulted in substantial changes to the Ermineskin way of life and diet.

These changes have led to a “calamity” consisting of “overwhelming” diabetes, gangrene and kidney disease, alleges the statement of claim.

The Hobbema reserve faces massive challenges, including serious gang violence, on top of the challenges that are all too common on Indian reserves in Canada. In May CBC’s The National aired a 20-minute documentary on Hobbema called “One Bullet Too Many.” It’s a devastating portrait of this struggling community. The Canadian Government needs to bear its share of the responsibility for these troubles and live up to their promises to provide health care and support for Hobbema. Good luck to the Erminskine band in their campaign for justice.

[See other CBC news stories on Canada’s Aboriginal communities here.]

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