As Kohler works to help find sustainable solutions to the global water crisis, we are honored to collaborate with partner organizations actively engaged with Indigenous communities to safeguard access to clean water and sanitation. Our most recent partnership venture is with Water First, an innovative organization that works with communities and Indigenous populations in Canada.
Despite Canada being home to 20 percent of the world's freshwater sources, First Nations communities there face unequal access to clean and safe water. As Christopher Bell, Vice President and General Manager of Kohler Kitchen & Bath Canada, notes, “13.5 percent of First Nations communities in Canada cannot drink their own tap water. In Ontario, that number is 40 percent, which means 4 out of 10 First Nation people in Ontario have unsafe drinking water.”
To help combat these statistics and the very real impact the lack of safe water has on an individual’s health and livelihood, Water First has developed an internship program for Indigenous young adults to become water systems operators. Through internships uniquely designed to engage Indigenous young adults, individuals acquire hands-on knowledge in the use of water quality equipment, analysis, and testing processes. Not only will the skills and expertise they gain help their local communities, but the program also launch them on a career path. Take a look at what interns have to say about their experiences here.
In late 2020 we began our partnership with a $10,000 donation to support the internship program and over 200 hours of life-changing training. Building on that initial step, we’ve introduced a campaign to raise awareness about the water challenges First Nations communities in Canada face. The campaign ultimately encourages Canadians to donate directly to Water First with a commitment from Kohler to match up to $10,000. The goal is to provide an additional $20,000 for Water First to continue its very important work.
This support for Water First builds upon Kohler's commitment to supporting Indigenous communities across North America. In March 2020 we launched the Water Is Life microgrant program with human rights nonprofit organization Dig Deep to provide grassroots funding directly to individuals with immediately actionable ideas to address water access challenges on the Navajo Nation in the southwestern United States.
We believe that no one organization alone can solve the global water crisis; rather, it requires the collective efforts of many. Together, we can make safe water for all a reality. Better is always possible.
If you’d like to learn more about the Water First internship program or help with a donation, visit: https://waterfirst.ngo/partners/kohler/.