In an open letter, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, National Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald have urged Anglicans and Lutherans to follow the lead of their youth in “lifting up” the struggling Ojibwe community of Pikangikum in northern Ontario by writing to their political representatives in Ottawa.
Many of the 2,400 residents of the fly-in reserve community have long lived with inadequate or absent indoor plumbing and limited access to clean drinking water, and while the Canadian government has invested funds to build a new school, there has been little work done toward addressing the lack of basic infrastructure that plagues the community.
Last year, Anglicans and other concerned citizens participated in a fundraiser to provide clean water systems to 10 homes in Pikangikum. Through the National Youth Project, Anglican and Lutheran youth have participated in the Right to Water program, which is raising money in partnership with the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) and the Pimatisiwin Nipi (Living Water) group to help provide potable water to homes in Pikangikum.
But the bishops’ open letter calls on Anglicans and Lutherans to push the government to do its part.
A form letter is attached to the three bishops’ open letter that concerned persons can use to contact their members of Parliament and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Bernard Valcourt.
The form letter highlights the fact that fewer than 10% of Pikangikum households have access to clean running water or indoor plumbing and that the community also lacks connection to the electrical grid, forcing them to rely on diesel-generated power. It says that while “concerned Anglicans and Lutherans are doing our part to address these problems” they can “only go so far,” and that the federal and provincial governments must commit to facilitating the connection of Pikangikum to the power grid.