Kashechewan asks PM to send in military as flood season approaches with COVID-19 preventing evacuations

 

chief of Kashechewan First Nation in northern Ontario has asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to send in Canadian Military engineers to help protect the community as the flood season fast approaches.

Chief Leo Friday wrote Trudeau Mar. 20 requesting the help as he suspects it’s just a matter of weeks before the Albany River overtakes the community like it does nearly every year.

“We request the assistance of the Canadian Military Engineers,” wrote Friday in his letter. “They have planned and executed many army deployments around the globe and can prove to be essential for this undertaking given the required experience and logistical capabilities.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the community members likely can’t be flown out as they have in the years past.

Friday is trying to move the community to higher ground, he told Trudeau.

“We envision a camp that would accommodate 2,000 people in family size tents,” said Friday of the camp about 37 kilometres up river that would need to last at least two weeks.

Friday said they still need to clear cut the and build a road. He’s asked for 400 tents, food and a nursing station, as well as much more needed items to keep his community safe.

NDP MP Charlie Angus told APTN News Thursday night that Trudeau has yet to respond to Friday, so he wrote his own letter to Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller.

“The crisis of COVID-19 added a massive challenge to what is already a very difficult situation for the people of Kashechewan,” wrote Angus in his Mar. 26 letter, adding he wants to know what steps have been taken to address Friday’s requests.

“A medical disaster could easily unfold.”

He said failure to act will be putting the people at an unnecessary risk and repeated a request for the military to help.

APTN reached out to Miller but his spokesperson said he wasn’t immediately available.

Producer Nation to Nation - Ottawa

Kenneth is a journalist with nearly two decades of reporting experience who focuses on crime and social issues, including child welfare and wrongful convictions. He has worked out of APTN’s Ottawa bureau since October 2012.