Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively have donated half a million dollars to Canadian charity Water First Education & Training Inc. The organization trains Indigenous youth and young adults in bringing safe water to their communities through operating key water treatment plants.

Residents of First Nations communities often rely on water treatment facilities to end poor, contaminated water supplies, despite Canada being water-rich. “Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right. Canada is home to over 20 percent 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,” Reynolds said in a statement.

The actor praised Water First for helping ensure Indigenous communities needing sustainable safe water supplies can get young, qualified and local technicians to run the treatment plants or monitor for unsafe water.

“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,” Reynolds added.

Water First operates alongside long-standing federal government efforts that have come up short in ensuring a safe water supply for all Indigenous communities countrywide.

Spencer Welling, Water First intern from Wasauksing First Nation, said in his own statement: “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 decades.”

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