Attawapiskat Cree Nation members Forced to return to Unsanitary Conditions

Press Release
September 2009

While people across Canada are decorating their homes and preparing for Thanksgiving with family and friends, our people are separated from the home community of Attawapiskat.“We have been patient, but now we are confused, angry and feeling that we have been abandoned,” said Deputy Chief Theresa Spence.

“Those who have returned are living in tent frames, sharing accommodations at the Treatment Centre which is below standards under the fire and building codes and family members who are already overcrowded. This is not acceptable,” said Greg Shisheesh, liaison for the community members.

On July 25, Attawapiskat Deputy Chief Theresa Spence called a state of emergency when sewage backup flooded homes. Several families relocated to Cochrane but after two months, the finances are running low and the Council, as of September 22 said there will be no more funds to assist those still in Cochrane and that they must return to their community without a home.

Chief and Council of Attawapiskat have concurred that the money which is remaining should, and is being used to continue the programs for the community members and their children in Attawapiskat. In the meantime frustrated members of the community are questioning the governments lack of response in taking so long to resolve the crisis.

“We need Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) at the table. It is time for INAC to respond immediately and all other government officials. We want to go back to our community, environmentally safe homes and our children but not with a bandage solution. We need the support from Assembly of First Nations National Chief, Provincial, Chiefs of Ontario, Nishnawbi-Aski Chiefs level, Mushkegowuk Chief who has been with the Attawapiskat community members to help”, said Greg Shisheesh liaison for the community members.

The matter now involves a mediator to bring all parties together. Who is responsible for the problems the community face? Health Canada told them to leave their homes due to the sewage problem.. but INAC refuses to accept responsibility for the health and safety issues and recognizes this as a housing issue.

It has been over 2 months and only a bandage solution to the real problem…contamination throughout the homes in Attawapiskat.

In the meantime, Chief Theresa Hall is in Attawapiskat with Band Council members negotiating for funding from other resources for the evacuees in Cochrane.

The community members of Attawapiskat need the support from everyone to be home with their families in a safe, clean environment…

To help, please contact
Chief Theresa Hall – 705-997-2166

NationTalk Partners & Sponsors Learn More