Rheanna Gilbert


Acrylic on Canvas, 2016

In Canada, First Nation reserves throughout the country have been denied accessible and clean water. This painting’s clean, freshwater blue background sharply contrasts the toxic coloured, bacteria infested fluid contained in its 90 cups. The capabilities of science and engineering to identify water quality issues and respond to them effectively are immense; yet cease to reach the reserves of Indigenous peoples. Solutions to this growing crisis can and must be implemented to fix the problems that Canada has unconsciously and consciously created for Indigenous communities.

In a country fortunate enough to reap the luxury of abundant fresh water from the Great Lakes, why are approximately 90 First Nation reserves across Canada left under “boil-water”, “do not consume”, and “do not use” advisories, many for over 10-20 years? With a cup for each of the 90 water-deprived reserves, the widespread magnitude of this clean water crisis becomes startlingly evident in this piece. As a result of contaminants such as E. coli and Coliform, lurking invasively in tap water, hundreds of people must constantly be mindful of their water treatment and usage to ensure the wellbeing of themselves, their children, and their communities.