Vancouver-born actor Ryan Reynolds and his wife actress Blake Lively have donated half a million dollars to support local hands-on skills training and education for young Indigenous adults.
The Hollywood A-listers donated to a Canadian charity called Water First Education & Training Inc. but their specific contribution will go toward providing resources for more "young Indigenous adults to become water treatment plant operators and environmental water science technicians, as well as engage Indigenous school-aged students in water science," explains a news release.
Many Indigenous communities continue to lack access to safe, clean water in Canada. While many governments communicate awareness of the issue, at least 15 per cent — or roughly one in six First Nations communities — are still under a drinking water advisory.
“Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right. Canada is home to over 20% of the planet’s freshwater — an abundance that’s envied around the world. There’s absolutely no reason Indigenous communities should not have access to safe, clean water, " said Reynolds.
"All the individuals involved, whether they are operating water systems or monitoring their local water bodies, are critical. We appreciate Water First’s focus on supporting young, Indigenous adults to become certified water operators and environmental technicians. These folks are helping to ensure sustainable access to safe, clean water locally, now and for the future. Blake and I are thrilled to support this important work."
Due to the complexity of water challenges faced by Indigenous communities, Water First states that an integrated approach involving multiple solutions is critical for long-term sustainability — and no one "understands this more than the people who live there."
The charity spoke to many Indigenous communities that cited the need for more young, qualified people who can support solutions for water challenges.
John Millar, executive director and founder at Water First, stated that the charity was moved by Reynolds' "genuine interest" in supporting training opportunities for young Indigenous adults and youth.
"Ryan and Blake’s tremendous support will significantly increase Water First’s ability to offer hands-on skills training to more Indigenous youth and young adults from coast to coast to coast,” he said.
Spencer Welling, Water First intern from Wasauksing First Nation shares, "I am doing this for myself, my family and community. It’s important to know how things are done and gives you a better appreciation for it. It’s a good career to have, which I’m sure would ease my parents’ minds knowing that. It also feels good knowing that my community will have a local water treatment operator at the plant for at least a couple of decades.”
Today, we are thrilled to announce that Ryan (@VanCityReynolds) and Blake (@blakelively)— Water First Education & Training Inc. (@waterfirstngo) March 24, 2022
have made an incredible $500,000 donation to Water First! 👏🏼
This significant donation will provide resources to support the next generation of #HeroesWithoutCapes. pic.twitter.com/yESzds5RoT
Anyone interested in learning about Water First and its education and training programs can find out more online.