Kohler Canada associates recognized a unique opportunity to use their water expertise to help solve the lack of access to clean, safe water for Canada’s Indigenous communities. To ensure meaningful impact, associates sought a partner that shared Kohler’s commitment to safe water for all and that was looking to implement sustainable, long-lasting solutions in communities across the country. Water First immediately stood out as a leader, not only bridging the clean water gap for Indigenous communities, but also providing access to training for water-treatment technicians.
Water First takes a holistic approach to providing access to clean water, and its programs are guided by the belief that people living in the community will have the clearest and deepest understanding of the challenges their community faces. Whether it’s poor infrastructure, contaminated source water, or something else entirely, needs will vary from community to community. And what sets Water First apart from other organizations is their focus on capacity building and training a new generation of technicians to operate and maintain water systems so the community can benefit for years to come.
As part of our partnership efforts, Kohler began directly supporting the Water First internship program, which trains Indigenous youth to become certified water-treatment plant operators. Now, over a year since Water First and Kohler teamed up, internship program graduates are applying their knowledge and skills to support the critical long-term sustainability of Indigenous communities’ drinking water systems.
This past October, eleven interns graduated from the program and are now working in local water- treatment plants to ensure safe water for their communities. One of the recent graduates is Hunter Edison, who currently works as his community’s only water operator in the Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation. In Hunter’s words, “Being an operator is quite the responsibility, not to be taken lightly. You’re not just keeping one person safe. Or just yourself. It’s the whole community. Before this, I didn’t realize that I could fulfill such an important role for my community.” Learn more about Hunter’s story here.
This “by the community for the community” approach is a core principle of Kohler’s partnership and innovation strategy for Kohler Safe Water for All. Water First’s commitment to training the next generation of Canada’s safe water keepers is one example of how communities and partners can collaborate to scale change. Partnerships like these pave the way for sharing expertise, experience, and resources to innovate and create a positive and lasting impact for the community and all of its members.
Meaningful change for the environment requires new ways of thinking, making, and living. Design opens the door to possibility.