Clean Water for Pikangikum

Clean water distribution to homes, cisterns, indoor plumbing and waste management efforts continue

Pikangikum, population 3,000, is the largest First Nation Community in northern Ontario. 86 percent of the community is under 39 years of age. Over 30 percent is under nine years of age. Pikangikum (pronounced pea-kan-ja-koom) has the highest birth-rate in the Sioux Lookout District of north-western Ontario. There are over 400 homes in the community. Half remain without water service, plumbing and waste/sewage disposal.

Pikangikum is a remote community, about 100 kilometres north of Red Lake and 540 kilometres north-west of Thunder Bay. It is accessible by road only in winter.

A song video by youth of Pikangikum

Pikangikum came to national attention after a wave of youth suicides in 2011. The tragedy prompted a group of Toronto-based professionals to work with the Pikangikum elders and school system. This group, now known as The Pikangikum Working Group, identified 12 priorities for the community. The first priority was to get a new school. It was opened in the fall of 2016. The second was for clean water.

The goal now is 

  • To provide a source of potable drinking water to Pikangikum homes, by equipping homes with a cistern to hold the water and a wastewater holding tank as well as the necessary fixtures and fittings.

Since 2013, more than 600 thousand dollars has been raised through the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF). As of summer 2018, 200 homes remain to be equipped. The cost per home is about 25 thousand dollars.

Families of Pikangikum, who have elderly relatives suffering from extreme health constraints, express relief and happiness in having access to clean water, toilets and bathing facilities at home. The PWRDF has been working with Habitat for Humanity Manitoba since 2016 and continues to accept donations for additional work in Pikangikum or other communities in need.

Bishop Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Bishop for Canada, has called together a group of people from churches and community organizations who are concerned about Indigenous communities in Canada. The group was created in response to such concerns expressed by many about the lack of good drinking water in First Nations’ communities and how ordinary Canadians could help bring about positive change.

Bishop Mark’s group is Pimatisiwin Nipi -- The Living Water Group. They support the PWRDF water programme in Pikangikum as they strive to achieve the Four Pillars in their work together:

  • Advocacy
  • Education
  • Partnership
  • Strategic Giving


  1. Bill Nicholls on 28 August 2018 at 8:40 PM

    Just viewed and listened to this new post. WOW!! What a powerful message about many First Nation problems.
    The passage and the video put a lot of things in perspective.

    • Father Glenn on 28 August 2018 at 8:48 PM

      Howdy Bill, I felt the same about the info. The plaintiff yet hopeful tone of the music video really conveys the deeper reality. And the background scenes in the video also paint an accurate picture of life in a remote First Nations community. Pikangikum Clean Water, I think, is a project worthy of our consideration. I believe the improvements/updates that are possible through the PWRDF support are indeed making a positive difference.

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