01/14/2015 09:50 EST | Updated 03/17/2015 05:59 EDT

Tsal'alh First Nation Bans Bottled Water

PAUL J. RICHARDS via Getty Images
Bottles of water for sale are seen at the Eastern Market February 25, 2014, in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

A First Nation near Lillooet, B.C. has banned the sale of bottled water in an attempt to highlight the need for safe drinking water in indigenous communities.

"What we've done is we've taken a vow to continue to protect our water sources and help raise the issue of how important water resources are," said the community's former chief, Garry John.

The Tsal'alh First Nation, also known as the Seton Lake Indian Band, is the first indigenous "Blue Community."

The Blue Communities Project is a joint initiative between the Council of Canadians and CUPE that encourages communities to promote the protection of public water sources.

Bottled water won't be sold at public facilities, and won't be available at community meetings.

According to Health Canada, there were 135 drinking water advisories in effect in 91 First Nations communities across Canada (excluding British Columbia) as of Nov. 30, 2014.

Some have been under a boil water advisory for more than 10 years.

John hopes other First Nations communities will pass similar resolutions — including demands for the federal government to pay for better water infrastructure.

"We're hoping this is the beginning of the wave across the country," said John.


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