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Samson Cree Nation water projects coordinator nominated for national award

Chad Simon: ‘Access to clean water is a fundamental human right’
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A member of Samson Cree Nation was recently recognized for his advocacy for safe and clean drinking water in his community.

Chad Simon, the water projects coordinator at Samson Cree Nation, was nominated for the 2023 National First Nations Water Leadership Award. This was the sixth year of the annual award.

“I have become more passionate about promoting safe drinking water and water leadership as my understanding deepens,” said Simon in a press release.

“Access to clean water is a fundamental human right and responsible water management is crucial for our future generation.We can all work together to inspire positive change and ensure that safe drinking water is accessible to all.”

Nominees were from across Canada and represented First Nations individuals, organizations and communities who are innovative, inspirational, knowledgeable and collaborative with others.

Simon has spearheaded water and wastewater capital projects and transitioned the Nation’s water systems to proactive water management.

Nominated by Mario Swampy, Simon enjoys learning about water history in his community from local residents.

“My favourite part of my day-to-day work would be engaging with the Nation members. Many conversations that lead to questions about the water quality, as well as the history of water in our local area, drives me to understand more about our life-giving element.”

According to Simon, the biggest need his community is addressing long standing water infrastructure issues, and ensuring access to clean and reliable drinking water for centralized and decentralized systems.

“Community engagements have helped our Nation members understand the importance of understanding and protecting our water,” he said.

“By raising awareness, encouraging community involvement and supporting strong leadership in water-related initiatives, we can make a meaningful impact.”

The 2023 recipient of the award was Warren Brown from Lytton First Nation in B.C. The other nominees were:

- Cody Black Eyes from Piikani Nation;

- John Willier, Kris Willier, Kaine Giroux and Styles Giroux from Swan Lake First Nation;

- Marvin Steinhauer from Whitefish Lake First Nation No. 128;

- James Arcand from Alexander First Nation;

- CJ Burnstick from Alexander First Nation, and

- Simon House from Paul First Nation.

Nominations for the 2024 National First Nations Water Leadership Award will be accepted from Jan. 1, 2024, to March 31, 2024.