Barriere Lake closes school because of sewage leak again


More than 80 elementary school students have been forced to attend classes in alternative buildings because of a sewage leak problem in Barriere Lake, an Algonquin community about 300 km north of Ottawa in Quebec.

Chief Tony Wawatie said they’ve moved the children and staff into other buildings.

“We used one of our teacher’s residences to turn that into a school, we’ve also used the head start head building,” he told APTN News.

This isn’t the first time Barriere Lake has had to close the school.

APTN was there in 20l6 when the 50-year-old school was shut down for mould in the crawl space at the front entrance. It was so bad you could smell it.

Wawatie said the kids would have had a new school by now if the federal government had followed through with plans made years ago.

Former chief Casey Ratt said the holdup is because the community is not hooked up to the electrical grid and continues to run on generators.

“There was funding for a new school, we did everything that we had to, we had soil testing, we had, you know, architects all this stuff that to build a new school was done,” said Ratt. “Then last minute, ISC (Indigenous Services Canada) turns around and says, ‘well you won’t get in school until you hook up until you find a source of electrical power.’”

Ratt said there are plans for air quality testing to be done next week but the community is looking at alternatives for fall.

“We put forth the, you know some ideas maybe having trailers sent to the community and setting them up as classrooms that that’s an option, again, but we need ISC funding to be able to put that action into, on the ground,” he said.

According to Maclean, “in addition to the ongoing discussions about electrification, discussions have also resumed within the community about the final location of the school. Therefore, unless the community provides clear direction on its intentions regarding the power supply and the school site, the construction project cannot proceed,” she said.