November 23, 2011
Living conditions in the northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat are so deplorable that community leaders declared a state of emergency on October 28, 2011. Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence urged that her community of more than 2,000 people be evacuated before winter sets in as lives, particularly those of children and elders, are at risk.
According to the Member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay, Charlie Angus, “presently, there are five families living in tents; 19 families living in sheds without running water; 35 families living in houses needing serious repair; 128 families living in houses condemned from black mold and failing infrastructure; 118 families living with relatives (often 20 people in a small home); there are 90 people living in a construction trailer. There’s a need for 268 houses just to deal with the immediate backlog of homelessness.” Without indoor plumbing, some have to use buckets as washroom facilities and many sleep in fear due to danger of fire without safe sources of heat. Attawapiskat is the same community where the grade school has been shut down for 12 years as the children were being exposed to dangerous levels of benzene from the badly contaminated ground.
The federal government has agreed to spend $500,000 to renovate housing in Attawapiskat. This amount is only enough to repair three or four houses as one house can cost up to $200,000. The Member of Provincial Parliament for Timmins-James Bay, Gilles Bisson, has said that the provincial government should use its power under the Emergency Measures Act to intervene in this emergency. The provincial government intervened in the nearby community of Kashechewan in November 2005 after its water treatment plant stopped working.
The conditions the people of this community are forced to live in are not good for their health. Lack of proper water and sanitation is an invitation for disease and sickness. Help us help the people of Attawapiskat.
Please act now by letting our federal and provincial leaders know that nurses demand action to protect the lives of people in Attawapiskat.