Statement by the Honorable Chuck Strahl
OTTAWA (April 27, 2008) – The following statement was released by the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, concerning the evacuations of Kashechewan, Fort Albany and Attawapiskat First Nation communities due to flooding:”Our Government continues to monitor the emergency situation in the James Bay communities and remains in constant contact with Emergency Management Ontario, the Ministry of Natural Resources and other provincial ministries and agencies, as they lead the coordinated efforts to ensure the safety of all residents. On Friday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay directed the Canadian Forces to deploy aircraft to assist the Province of Ontario with the evacuation. The priority of all partners is to ensure that community members are evacuated quickly and safely.
I have been in contact with Kashechewan Chief Jonathon Solomon, Fort Albany Deputy Chief Andrew Linklater and Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Hall, and want to commend them for their excellent preparatory work in monitoring this season’s potential for flooding and management of the current evacuation. I would also like to thank the Ontario cities and towns that are hosting the evacuated community members.
In keeping with the Memorandum of Agreement and Understanding signed by Kashechewan Chief Solomon and Canada – an agreement to redevelop the community in its current location – last summer, our Government has made significant investments to strengthen that community’s dyke and help protect the community from high-water levels. In fact, this Government has invested $3.5 million on this project since 2006. INAC officials are also working closely with Kashechewan leadership and a technical advisory board towards longer-term dyke remediation work.
The very latest update indicates that the dyke in Kashechewan is doing its job and water levels have receded in certain areas along the Albany River.
We will continue to monitor the current emergency situation. The collaboration of the three First Nations with INAC, DND, and Health Canada, under the direction of Emergency Management Ontario and our other provincial partners, will ensure this evacuation happens as seamlessly as possible so that community members maintain a sense of well-being until they can return home.”
For further information please contact:
Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada