OCWA Announces First Nations Advisory Circle

December 16, 2021

OCWA Announces First Nations Advisory Circle

MISSISSAUGA, ON, December 16, 2021 – The Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA), an agency of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, is pleased to announce the formation of a First Nations Advisory Circle.

Chaired by Robert Watts (Vice President, Indigenous Relations and Strategic Planning, Nuclear Waste Management Organization and a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River), the Circle will report to OCWA’s Board of Directors and provide advice and recommendations on how the Agency can enhance its partnerships with First Nations communities and better support their water and wastewater needs and concerns. The Circle may also advise on the integration of First Nation perspectives into OCWA’s strategies.

“OCWA would like to gain a better understanding of the challenges that First Nations face, not only with respect to addressing water and wastewater treatment in their communities, but also in the context of their unique experiences, culture and history in Canada,” said Joseph Pennachetti, Chair of OCWA’s Board of Directors. “The Agency is committed to strengthening its current First Nations partnerships and developing new partnerships based on mutual trust, respect and collaboration.”

“We are excited to welcome this diverse group of individuals to the Advisory Circle. Their collective expertise and knowledge will be an incredible asset to OCWA,” said Melanie Debassige (M’Chigeeng First Nation), a member of the Agency’s Board and the Chair of its First Nations Committee. “I’ve been speaking with the Circle members and they are very enthusiastic to get started. OCWA’s Board and Executive Team shares their enthusiasm and looks forward to collaborating with Chair Watts and the other Advisory Circle members.”

“I have always believed in the principle of ‘never about us, without us,’ as often said by the former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “The First Nations Advisory Circle will add tremendous value to the path forward for safe drinking water and wastewater systems in Indigenous communities, and it is encouraging to see this next step in collaborative efforts.”

OCWA is pleased to introduce the following members of the First Nations Advisory Circle:

Robert Watts (Chair)
Vice President, Indigenous Relations and Strategic Planning
Nuclear Waste Management Organization
From Six Nations of the Grand River

Gary Naponse
Director of Housing and Infrastructure
Atikameksheng Anishnawbek
From Atikameksheng Anishnawbek

Sylvia Plain
Great Lakes Canoe Journey Education Program
From Aamjiwnaang First Nation

Phil Tangie
Hub Manager
Anishinaabeg of Kabapikotawangag Resource Council
From Michipicoten First Nation

Joseph Wabegijig
Founder and CEO
Phoenix Smart Infrastructure
From Wikwemikong Unceded Territory 

Amy Waboose
Water Quality Analyst
Whitefish River First Nation Water Treatment Plant
From Whitefish River First Nation

About OCWA

For more than 25 years, First Nations communities, municipalities, institutions, and businesses across the province have chosen the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) as their trusted partner to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective water and wastewater services. Today, OCWA operates over 1,000 water and wastewater facilities – more than any other operator in Canada. Over the last two decades, OCWA has worked with more than 50 First Nations communities across the province and provided support of the management, operation, and maintenance of their water and wastewater systems. The Agency also provides in-plant operations training, emergency response, capital planning and other technical services to First Nations communities.

Media Contact:

Amy Lane
Manager, Marketing, Communications and Proposals
Ontario Clean Water Agency

Catherine Flannery
Marketing and Community Outreach
Ontario Clean Water Agency