Community Highlight: The Assembly of First Nations & The Honouring Air Program

Air pollution is a major concern for everyone, but for First Nations communities in Canada it’s even more important. Recently, air pollution became a greater concern as one study found higher levels of cancer-causing air pollutants affecting the Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Ontario.

The air quality data found levels of benzene pollution were 44 times higher than the annual level. But what’s causing this? Well, this is likely due to the area being surrounded by heavy industry. In fact, the Aamjiwnaang First Nation is close to an area called the Chemical Valley because of frequent industrial leaks and spills.

So, what can we do about it? Well, one way is to support air quality organizations and lobbyists like the Assembly of First Nations, a group we believe worth highlighting today.

Who is the Assembly of First Nations?

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is an organization that advocates for First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on national or international matters. In addition to the direction provided by Chiefs of each member First Nation, the AFN is guided by a committee consisting of an elected National Chief and Regional Chiefs from each province and territory.

Since it was founded in 1982, the AFN has been a major force in lobbying for Indigenous rights both nationally and provincially. Today, it has united hundreds of First Nations communities across Canada. Together, they’re creating meaningful change through research and policy initiatives.

Furthermore, the AFN works closely with local communities to foster leadership development and build capacity among members of Indigenous nations. By working diligently to protect their collective rights today, they ensure that tomorrow's generations can live in a safer society and environment.

The AFN also has specific initiatives dedicated to honoring air quality by reducing air pollution and acid rain. Both air pollution and acid rain are major issues for First Nations communities, as many of them are in proximity to industrial facilities.

These health hazards affect local community members whether they live in urban areas or remote ones, so it’s important that groups like the AFN exist to protect them from harm and demand action from government officials.

In the past, we’ve highlighted the work of community groups like Alaska Community Action on Toxins (ACAT) to monitor their air quality. By having access to real-time air quality data, they were able to identify sources of air pollution in their community. We’re firm believers in supporting groups like AFN and ACAT so they can do their job keeping local and national governments accountable.

Because at the end of the day, air quality affects everyone.

As such, we need to work together to make air quality not only accessible to everyone—but also a priority for everyone. In remote areas with no air quality monitors, or in the case where private organizations are reluctant to share the data, installing highly-precise and affordable air quality monitors is the first step to solving the problem.

Get Involved Yourself

At PurpleAir, we know there are tons of community groups around the world. We’re thrilled to see these kinds of collaborative efforts, and we look forward to seeing plenty more in the future. Are you working on a community project with PurpleAir’s air quality monitors?

We would love to hear about it. Share a post in the Community Project forum, then we can highlight your work. Together, we can make air quality accessible for everyone.