Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Responds to State of Emergency Declaration by Shamattawa First Nation

Press Release

March 14, 2023

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) releases the following statement supporting Shamattawa First Nation as Chief Jordna Hill declares a state of emergency and calls on Canada to fulfill their moral and fiduciary responsibilities by offering short and long-term assistance to our First Nations.

“I am devastated for the families living in Shamattawa First Nation who have lost those homes in a community already experiencing housing shortages,” said Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “Living under such vulnerable conditions is distressing, where everyone is helpless if there is a fire. I’m grateful that no one lost their lives in this fire, but it could have been a graver tragedy, weighing heavily on communities and leadership. Our job is to keep the citizens of this province safe.”

The Government of Canada has been making promises since 2017 to make significant investments in the infrastructure of First Nations and to work in partnership with provinces, territories, municipalities, and First Nations to address issues such as fire protection, and there are still no improvements. Fire trucks remain in disrepair or waiting on repairs in Winnipeg, while homes in remote communities are left vulnerable.

“I want to acknowledge Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) and Keewatin Tribal Council (KTC) for deploying their crisis mobile teams into Shamattawa this week,” said Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “I am concerned that Indigenous Services Canada FNIHB Manitoba Region only funds two crisis response positions for MKO and KTC, respectively. This is intolerable because both entities must cover a large geographical region in northern Manitoba. Moreover, the Federal Government does not adequately fund Shamattawa for capital, which hampers the work of the crisis teams due to lack of accommodations, and the nursing station can’t house the teams due to visiting doctors and nurses. We need a crisis mobile before the winter road closes so this First Nation doesn’t face any more loss to fires. The government must show real commitment to fire protection, fire safety, and fire prevention for remote First Nations. Resources must be secured so proper maintenance and services can be available.”

For more information, please contact:
Communications Team
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
Email: media@manitobachiefs.com

About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) people.

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