Canada: Attawapiskat Citizens In Desperate Need of Housing -Some are Living in Tents

Canada: Attawapiskat Housing Crisis A Serious Risk To Women, Children, Elders

By Ahni Nov 22, 2011

Children living in un-insulated tents; families relying on buckets for toilets; elders living in sheds–these are some of the conditions witnessed by Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus and MPP Gilles Bisson on a tour through Attawapiskat this month.

For almost two years, the Attawapiskat First Nation has been facing a severe housing shortage. As MP Charlie Angus recently witnessed first-hand, there are several families on the reserve who are living in makeshift shelters including uninsulated tents, converted garages, temporary trailers and deteriorating homes filled with Stachybotrys chartarum–a fungi more commonly known as black mold.

Some of the shelters have no heat, electricity, or plumbing of any kind. Some don’t even have toilets, so instead people are using plastic buckets, which they are dumping into nearby ditches.

With winter fast approaching, the housing shortage is turning into the kind of crisis that humanitarian aid groups would normally flock to in droves, if it was happening in Haiti or Darfur. But the Cree Fist Nation isn’t in Haiti, it’s in Canada. And Canada is basically doing nothing. In fact, these days the government seems more interested in spying on Cindy Blackstock and shutting down native healing centres than actually helping and working with Indigenous Peoples.

In response to the ongoing crisis, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence recently declared a state of emergency, in which she pleaded for the government to step in and, if necessary, lead an emergency evacuation to ensure everyone’s health and safety. The government said no.

It probably came as no surprise to Chief Spence, given the way Canada has dealt with Attawapiskat in recent years. For instance, in 2009, another state of emergency was declared after INAC finally stepped in to clean up a 30,000 gallon oil spill from the 1970s. The mass of oil had accumulated directly beneath the community’s school grounds.

Some 30 years later, children at the school started getting sick, leaving Attawapiskat with no choice but to abandon the building. INAC responded by providing a new makeshift school a few metres away; but the actual clean up didn’t begin for another nine years.

In 2009, INAC demolished the old school and left an “open wound” at the center of the community, which it covered with a tarp.

Soon after that, community members started complaining of headaches, nausea, skin rashes, nosebleeds and chronic diarrhea. In the makeshift school, some children were said to be just “passing out”.

Canada did nothing. In fact, then-INAC Minster Chuck Strahl even went so far as to say that the whole situation was little more than a publicity stunt being propped up “on the backs of needy aboriginal people.”

This time around, the Canadian government appears to be acting a shade more reasonably, but only a shade. They recently promised to give the First Nation $500,000 to renovate 15 houses; but that’s it. Federal officials haven’t even bothered to visit the community. And who knows how long that will take for that fund to go through; never mind the fact that almost half of the houses on the reserve need renovations or are condemned.

In a frustrating twist, Attawapiskat happens to be in the shadow of the De Beers Victor Diamond Mine, which extracts about 600,000 carats per year.

Attawapiskat is getting an undisclosed amount of money from De Beers; however, Chief Spence says the bulk of that money goes directly into a trust fund which they can’t access for housing. Chief Spence is trying to renegotiate with De Beers, but those negotiations don’t appear to be going anywhere. Source

The Canadian government says it has given Attawapiskat roughly $90 million since 2006. However, documents from the department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada show Attawapiskat only received $4.3 million in funding for housing since 2006. Source

Someone is not being truthful. Which is it?

I am guessing they only received $4.3 million.

Harper’s government is not to reliable when it comes to facts.

Even if they did get $90,000,000

Divided by 6 years

=  $15,000.000 per year

Divided by 1,800 citizens

= $8,333 per person per year = about

$694 per month per person

When you bring it down to reality it really isn’t very much.

That money of course does not go to the people. Some does, but not it all.

A few things money is used for in Northern Communities.

They have to bring in most of what they use.

Shipping is a huge cost.

Snow Removal.

Building maintenance for schools or should I say school and portables.

They need an air port.

Have to pay the teachers, janitors etc.

Have to pay for the Health Care workers.

Have to pay the airport personnel and maintenance.

Have to pay for road maintenance employees.

Those are just a few of the things not all. There are many more if I took the time to really think about it.

The cost of living in Attawapiskat is quite high, due to the expense of shipping goods to the community.

Local stores include the Northern Store and M. Koostachin & Sons (1976). More than a third of the residents occasionally place orders for perishables and other goods which are shipped in via aircraft from Timmins, and for which the residents make prepayments with money orders. When their orders arrive, the residents have to pick them up at the local airport. For example, 6 apples and 4 small bottles of juice cost $23.50 (2011-12-01).

The price of gasoline is considerably higher than the provincial average. When the fuel is shipped via winter road, the prices of gasoline and propane tend to drop slightly.

It costs $250,000 to build a house in Attawapiskat and only the Federal Government can build houses on the reserve. . The cost of renovating one condemned house is $50,000-$100,000. A majority of the community members have updated their heating needs, while many households still use dry firewood. Firewood in Attawapiskat costs $150 and $200 a cord, and a cord will heat a winter-bound tent for only a week, or at most 10 days. More information at  Source

Charlie Angus, scrum on Attawapiskat – 111201

Dec 1, 2011

Charlie Angus, NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay answered questions about the First Nations community of Attawapiskat in crisis – recorded by Samantha Bayard and Ish Theilheimer for Straight Goods News on December 1, 2011 during a scrum on Parliament Hill.

Canadian leadership in Attawapiskat

NDP Canada on Dec 1, 2011

ATTAWAPISKAT HOUSING-CRISIS

Attawapiskat First Nation is on the shores of James Bay Ontario.

Gilles on Attawapiskat Housing crisis

Nov 23 2011

Timmins James Bay MPP Gilles Bisson calls on provincial government to help residents of Attawapiskat

Canada AM – Attawapiskat

This video was taken fall 2010 when my family and I had visited Attawapiskat. Canada AM followed us up, and created this documentary to bring awareness to the housing, food, and ect. crises. since then not much has changed. and the people continue to lose more, and more hope.

Attawapiskat

This video was taken fall 2010

Attawapiskat – where are the promises?

Apr 14, 2009

Attawapiskat is the home of the Mushkegowuk (swampy) Cree that is situated on the west coast of James Bay. The community has been exposed to toxic fumes dating back to 30 years. Since 1979, about 30, 000 gallons of hydrocarbon oil spill has occured underneath the old school grounds. In the year 2000, there were health concerns of children and the staff getting sick. This resulted the closure of the old school. INAC build temporary portables near the contamination site til the new school was build. The community worked hard in negotiations with INAC and the government to get a new school and finally came to light! There was Hope once again for the children. Everything was in the process until the the new government stepped in 2007. On August 2007, Minister Chuck Strahl became the new Minister for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada under the leadership of the Conservatives. On December 2007, Minister of INAC decided to halt the deal, that left the community devastated. But that didn’t stop the community and the Children, they went as far to having a Human Rights Conference in Toronto. The students argue for a right to a quality education in safe environment in November 2008. Mr. Chuck Strahl was invited but didn’t show up?

Finally on March of 2009 , the old school was demolish under the direction of INAC, exposing the ground once capped by the old building. The contaminated debris wasn’t properly contained and was dump too closed to the community. As for the old building, it wasn’t capped leaving the fumes exposed to the residence. A stench was reported making the students, teachers and the community sick which then resulted to the closing of the schools, shortly by a declared state of emergency from the leaders. A few days later, INAC and Health Canada flew in to meet with the community and listen to the community’s testimonies of getting nausea, headaches, dizziness and skin rashes? The community felt it had to do with the contaminated ground and their water source.

INAC responded that they would take the information back to their Superiors and report back of their decision for further immediate action. Three days later, Attawapiskat was devastated when INAC and Health Canada went to the media and said “There was no iniminent dangers and that the community’s air tested normal?”. The Leaders didn’t buy it! As of April 9, 2009, Attawapiskat is still under state of emergency and have no trust in the government officials. They suspected that something wasn’t right with their findingsl because of all the testimonies that were given at the meeting of people getting sick? That people were dying from cancer too fast, children having skin rashes and the stench of the contaminated oil can still be smell.

Later that week, MP Charlie Angus and MPP Gilles Bisson responded to the urgent call of the Attawapiskat Chief and Council and did their own investigations. They were shock to find out the extent of this urgent matter and confirm the seriousness of addressing the health concerns right away.The next day, Both parties called for a National Press Conference and share their findings. Shortly after, INAC responded by saying, it was just a grandstanding photo-op? Which is not true. The Reps of James Bay-Timmins took soil samples with them and send them to Ottawa to get tested right away, doing INAC and Health Canada’s job for them?? They are calling on independent study by the medical and environmental team. As of today, INAC still refuses to evacuate the reserve even though they asked for immediate action until the remediation was completed and safe. The community was very upset to find out it would take INAC 2 more years to clean up the contamination site which wasn’t acceptable.

Ask yourself this question? Would you find it acceptable from INAC (Indian Northern Affairs of Canada) if they told you everything is fine in your community and there is nothing to worry about? While the children are breaking up in rashes, people getting sick and alot of reports of cancers since 30 years ago? Think about it…..Would you be willing to accept returning your children back to the toxic zone for their education? Would this happen down south? Is it acceptable to be told that it would take 2 years to finish cleaning up the toxic soil after it has been there for 30 years. These schools were under INAC’s watch when the spills happened…… If this reaches you, please help the community and put your government to shame!! Spread this video and let the world know what our Government is doing to their Indigenous People!

Shannen’s Dream of a new school may become reality in 2013. Will it really happen? Well I guess we will have to wait and see.

There have been promises before and still no school for the children.

After 2000, three successive INAC ministers — Robert Nault, Andy Scott and Jim Prentice — promised a new school for Attawapiskat. You can read the full chronology of seven years of negotiations on the departmental website. On April 1, 2008, the new minister, Chuck Strahl, informed AFNEA that Ottawa would not finance the new school after all. Well wasn’t that just the worst slap in the face a bunch of kids could get.
Shannen Koostachin at the National Day of Action on Parliament Hill in May 2008, a rally calling for better schools for First Nations children. The Attawapiskat teenager organized children in her community to lobby for a school to replace the portable classrooms she grew up attending. She was killed in a car accident on June 1 2010 at the age of 15. Photo Courtesy of 8th Fire

8th Fire: Aboriginal Peoples, Canada and the Way Forward. The four-part series begins airing on CBC television and Radio-Canada on Jan. 12, 2012.

Nov 30, 2011 VIDEO: A view from Attawapiskat before the crisis plus 2 other videos

Canadian Red Cross provides relief in Attawapiskat

The Canadian Red Cross is on the ground in Attawapiskat providing urgently needed aid to vulnerable families in the community.

“Our goal in Attawapiskat is to ensure that the immediate needs of the community are met, which includes making sure families have the supplies they need to survive the winter,” said John Saunders, provincial director of disaster management with the Canadian Red Cross. “We are focused on providing short-term relief to the community.”

The Canadian Red Cross is helping the families of Attawapiskat on the request of the local chief, Theresa Spence, and will continue to work alongside public authorities.

On November 29, a Red Cross team consisting of Saunders and two volunteers from Timmins arrived with preliminary supplies including sleeping bags, heaters and winter clothing. The team is conducting assessments to determine exactly what items and quantities are needed for short-term relief. Once the assessment is complete, the Canadian Red Cross will distribute those supplies.

In Attawapiskat, the Canadian Red Cross has identified families living in tents and wooden sheds without electricity and plumbing in most dwellings. Some homes have power by running extension cords. Some have created make shift wood stoves out of old oil drums, which is a threat to public safety and health.

Government and community officials continue to work to determine long-term solutions.

At the further request of the community, the Canadian Red Cross has taken on a donation management role. Canadians wishing to support immediate needs can make a donation through the Red Cross online, by phone by calling 1-800-418-111 or in person at their local Red Cross office. Red Cross.Ca

Libya took better care of it’s people then Canada does.  Canada helped Carpet Bomb them back to the stone ages and could afford to do that but not help their own people.

Did You Know

1. There is no electricity bill in Libya; electricity is free for all its citizens.
2. There is no interest on loans, banks in Libya are state-owned and loans given to all its citizens at zero percent interest by law.
3. Having a home considered a human right in Libya.
4. All newlyweds in Libya receive $60,000 dinar (U.S.$50,000) by the government to buy their first apartment so to help start up the family.
5. Education and medical treatments are free in Libya. Before Gaddafi only 25 percent of Libyans were literate. Today, the figure is 83 percent.
6. Should Libyans want to take up farming career, they would receive farming land, a farming house, equipments, seeds and livestock to kickstart their farms are all for free.
7. If Libyans cannot find the education or medical facilities they need, the government funds them to go abroad, for it is not only paid for, but they get a U.S.$2,300/month for accommodation and car allowance.
8. If a Libyan buys a car, the government subsidizes 50 percent of the price.
9. The price of petrol in Libya is $0.14 per liter.
10. Libya has no external debt and its reserves amounting to $150 billion are now frozen globally.
11. If a Libyan is unable to get employment after graduation the state would pay the average salary of the profession, as if he or she is employed, until employment is found.
12. A portion of every Libyan oil sale is credited directly to the bank accounts of all Libyan citizens.
13. A mother who gives birth to a child receive U.S.$5,000.
14. 40 loaves of bread in Libya costs $0.15.
15. 25 percent of Libyans have a university degree.
16. Gaddafi carried out the world’s largest irrigation project, known as the Great Manmade River project, to make water readily available throughout the desert country.
17 Women’s Rights: Under Gaddafi, gender discrimination was officially banned and the literacy rate for women climbed to 83 per cent. The rights of Black’s were also improved. Source

All that has been destroyed.

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