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Question to Minister of Aboriginal Affairs: Fort Albany and Kashechewan Flooding

by NationTalk on April 29, 2008570 Views

Mr. Speaker, it is spring again and once more we are seeing emergency planes having to be used to take people from the flood plain at Kashechewan and Fort Albany.

The people of Kashechewan had a signed agreement with the Government of Canada to relocate them. The government ripped up that agreement and it also walked away on two studies that it commissioned that said that the families had to be moved off the flood plain.What is it now, four emergencies in three years? Would the minister tell the Canadian people how many floods and evacuations it will take before the government finally moves these families to safe ground?

Hon. Chuck Strahl (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, during the weekend, I was in contact with the chiefs from Kashechewan, Fort Albany and Attawapiskat. All of them and their communities are doing yeoman service to protect the people in those communities, as is the Minister of National Defence who has made aircraft available for the evacuations.

I want to thank all of those communities for their efforts and the receiving communities that have looked after these people who have been taken out.

We are continuing to follow through on the memorandum of understanding signed with the chief and council at Kashechewan last year to ensure, as they requested, they stay in the community. We are working on the dikes to make it safe in the years to come.

Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the minister is misinforming the House. The people did not say that they were going to stay in the community. They were told by the government.

What the James Bay Cree are being left with are underfunded schools, third world infrastructure and no coherent plan for flood plains. We now have Kashechewan and Fort Albany under evacuation and Attawapiskat has moved to stage one evacuation.

The minister cancelled the emergency evacuation centre in Attawapiskat last December because he did not want to fund the school that was going to be built.

Why does the minister continue to roll the dice with the families of the James Bay coast?

Hon. Chuck Strahl (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, that is nonsense. We have been working closely with first nations in the development of these evacuation plans.

I talked with each of the chiefs this weekend, as well as with emergency workers from Ontario. The evacuation has gone well. Lessons were learned from the past of course and we have incorporated those into the new evacuation plans.

The important thing is that we are keeping people safe. We are working with the communities as we put forward a comprehensive plan based on the memorandum of understanding signed by chief and council about what we could do in that community. We are proceeding with that plan and will continue to do so in the future.

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