Friday, August 7, 2009

Problems in Attawapiskat and Kashechewan

If stimulating the economy in a fairer way was really the intention of the recent massive give-aways to corporations the Canadian federal government, for example, could help the people in Attawapiskat whose sewage system failed recently. 52 people had to be evacuated because Health Canada said it is unsafe to live in houses while basements are flooded with raw sewage. Indian Affairs has so far refused to pay for the emergency evacuation. Or build badly needed infrastructure in other First nations communities. This is not the first time the federal government refused to address problems in Attawapiskat in a timely manner.

The federal government is responsible for First Nations, a duty it has mostly shirked.

Deputy Chief Theresa Spence said: "It is very disgusting that, today, we still have to fight for basic humane living conditions. We have bed-ridden Elders and young children living in sewage contaminated homes. There are no local alternatives as we are already suffering from lack of housing and overcrowding in our community."

Six days after the contamination, the community declared a state of emergency. This prompted the July 25, 2009 evacuation of all affected. The residents are staying in a hotel in Cochrane, Ont. where they will remain for six to eight weeks while trailers are renovated in the community before the families return home. This will take three or four months before the contaminated homes can be repaired. While INAC will help pay for the renovations of the trailers, it will not contribute toward the evacuation cost.

I think the bureaucrats who made this decision should be moved into the houses contaminated with sewage and left to their own devices.

In Kashechewan, Ontario there were two major evacuations in 2005 as a result of floods. The community's problems have not really been solved in a permanent way. Originally they were even created by the Government of Canada when - in order to save money - they built the sewage lagoon UPSTREAM - from the intake pipe for the water treatment plant to produce drinking water. I don't think you need to be an expert to anticipate problems with such an arrangement.

(The previous is to a CBC page. It worked on Aug.7, 2009. However, the CBC has a bad habit of deleting some links after some time. So if it does not work anymore when you click on it please accept my apologies.)