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Sask. First Nation calls out Saskatoon MP over remarks on water plants

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Piapot First Nation is demanding an apology from a Saskatoon MP over remarks made in the House of Commons last week.

On Feb. 5, Kevin Waugh, the MP for Saskatoon-Grasswood said he has seen First Nations in Saskatchewan burn down water treatment plants because of the current federal government.

“In my province of Saskatchewan, I’ve seen reserves burn down water treatment plants because this government has done little or nothing,” the MP claimed.

Waugh went on to say educated people are needed on various First Nations to run the water treatment plants.

“These water treatment plants need education and they need people on reserve to operate the water treatment plants and that’s part of the problem we’ve seen from this government for the past eight and half years,” Waugh added.

The MP’s comments were made during the discussion of Bill C-61, or the First Nations Clean Water Act.

In 2018, Piapot First Nation was forced to declare a state of emergency due to their water treatment plant burning down.

The cause of the fire was later found to be a propane leak.

Chief and council of Piapot First Nation are offended by Waugh’s remarks and demanded an apology.

“The first at our plant was due to a propane leak, not negligence or lack of know-how,” Chief Fox of Piapot First Nation told CTV News. “Our team at the water facilities are top notch. They are skilled, dedicated and have been doing an excellent job for years.”

Old feelings within the community are resurfacing due to Waugh’s remarks.

During the state of emergency, the community was in panic and disarray as they worked to get water to their most vulnerable residents.

Neighboring First Nations and towns transported water to the community in their time of need.

“We were sad, we were angered. How could this happen? What are we going to do? But our community stepped up, we didn’t sit,” Chief Fox added.

In a statement to CTV News, Waugh’s office said he has reached out to Chief Fox to offer an apology and to clarify his remarks.

He will be meeting with the chief and elders next week to tour the nation.

“Come into our community, come and see our facilities,” Chief Fox added.

“You’ll see how First Nations people look after their community and infrastructure.”

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