Taking a cold plunge for clean water
SUDBURY -- It might be cold outside in Greater Sudbury, but that's not stopping Jordan Cheff for taking a swim in Nepawhin Lake.
The Sudbury man has been plunging into the water, every day for 30 days, as part of his 'Cold Water for Clean Water' campaign.
"It actually started with a dream that I had and that dream had to do with water trucks going up the Superior," said Cheff. "I've always had an inclination towards Indigenous communities and some of our heritage that involves some ugly truths that Canada has."
Fearing the plight of Indigenous communities that don't have clean drinking water could be put on the back burner during COVID, he figured this could be a good way to get some attention for a good cause, by using what he calls 'shock value.'
"This is a human issue," he said. "This is a Canadian issue and the fact that we don't have clean water in all of Canada, access to clean water in these remote areas is a huge, huge problem."
Cheff has been posting his cold-water bravery online in hopes of raising awareness about the plight of these communities, and also raise awareness about the not-for-profit Water First.
Educate and train
Water First uses funds to help educate and train drinking water operators, providing them with the knowledge and skills they need to help their communities.
"The Facebook Live, Instagram and TIK TOK, so just going approaching the social media and it seemed to really work, especially to get the attention of a younger audience," he said.
"I honestly wasn't surprised," said Cheff's wife, Melissa, who was also taking the plunge with him on Thursday. "He's always full of new ideas. He woke up and said I had a dream and I think I want to do this for 30 days and we just did it."
They began their Facebook Live video, greeted followers, and then made a mad dash for the water, waiting 15 seconds inside before making their way back out.
"Oh god, it's cold and I'm really uncomfortable, but so is not having clean water to drink," said Melissa, as she tried to dry off afterwards.
Jen Atkinson is with Water First and she told CTV News they couldn't be more pleased with the initiative.
"Jumping into a lake that I believe it two degrees, what a great way to gather support for such a great cause and the work that we do," said Atkinson.
"Approximately two of every five First Nations or Indigenous communities do not have clean drinking water. They may also be under a boil water advisory. Across the country on average, 20 per cent of Indigenous communities do not have clean drinking water and in Ontario it's even higher -- it's about 40 per cent."
Atkinson said there is no quick fix and they will be in this for the long haul trying to address the problem, but every little effort, including the one being undertaken by Cheff, helps.
Cheff's campaign will run until Dec. 13 and a few people around Sudbury have been watching and already signed up to take the plunge with him, including a young student from Chelmsford. He's hoping he can find a brave politician or two to take on the frigid waters.