Assembly of First Nations urges immediate action on Northern Winter Road Crisis
OTTAWA, March 19 – Assembly of First Nations Manitoba Regional Chief Bill Traverse and Regional Chief Rick Simon, who holds the National portfolio for First Nations Management, today called for immediate action to address a state of emergency in 10 northern Manitoba communities after an early spring thaw has closed winter roads, preventing the delivery of fuel, food and other critical supplies to thousands of people.
“Ten communities in northern Manitoba are in a state of emergency and have left thousands of people without supplies to meet their basic needs. We need to see immediate action to get supplies to these communities as well as a long-term plan to build all-weather roads,” said Regional Chief Bill Traverse.”Both levels of government must cooperate immediately to deliver critical goods to these communities, and should begin work on a climate change adaptation strategy and fund to ensure remote communities who normally rely on winter roads are not thrust into future crises,” said Regional Chief Rick Simon. “The Assembly of First Nations has contacted officials at Indian and Northern Affairs to urge immediate action, and to work with AFN staff to determine all options to support emergency planning and assistance.”
States of Emergency have been called in Shamattawa, Northlands, Barren Lands, St. Theresa Point, Red Sucker Lake, Garden Hill, Wasagamack, God’s Lake Narrows, Manto Sipi and Bunibonibee First Nations.
A number of transport trucks are currently stuck on the winter road. Isolated First Nation communities in Northern Manitoba already pay inflated prices for basic goods such as milk, juice and fruit. The AFN would like to ensure that any additional cost of flying in goods will not raise prices or cause additional pressures for people living in these communities. The AFN is also concerned about reports that building and housing materials may not have been delivered to some northern communities this year. Northern communities currently have a shortage of adequate housing and many homes are overcrowded.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.
For further information: Karyn Pugliese, A/Communications Director Assembly of First Nations, (613) 292-1877 or kpugliese[at]afn.ca; Jenna Young, Communications Officer, Assembly of First Nations, (613) 314-8157 or jyoung[at]afn.ca