Skip to main content

Atlantic First Nations Water Authority becomes first Indigenous water utility in Canada


After years of discussion, the Atlantic First Nations Water Authority made history Monday by becoming the first Indigenous water utility in Canada.

The transfer agreement was signed in Dartmouth, N.S., by Atlantic First Nations Water Authority (AFWNA) CEO Carl Yates, Potlotek First Nation Chief Wilbert Marshall, and federal Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu.

“Today we make over 20 years of discussion and planning an official action. It has taken a long time to arrive where we are today, and dedication from all those involved, and can’t be overlooked,” said Chief Marshall.

Under this agreement, AFWNA will handle the operation, maintenance, and capital upgrades of all water and wastewater systems in participating First Nation communities.

First Nations can officially join the water authority after receiving approval from their community members.

"We look forward to building capacity and increasing the level of service to standards enjoyed by other residents of Canada. We have blazed a trail for others to follow but that is the way of the Wabanaki who have always been first to see the dawn,” said Chief Marshall.

The authority will assume responsibility for up to 4,500 households and businesses in about 17 First Nation communities, or 60 per cent of Atlantic Canada’s on-reserve population.

As for jobs, AFWNA says it will support staff with education and on-the-job training, along with developing capacity within communities by hiring trainees.

The federal government has committed roughly $257 million in funding, including $173 million over 10 years from Budget 2022, which it says will provide sustainable funding for operations and capital programs. Top Stories

Stay Connected