APTN National News
OTTAWA–Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan said Friday that another northern First Nation community along Ontario’s James Bay coast which once made national headlines over its own crisis would be getting money for houses.
Duncan said in a statement that Kashechewan First Nation would receive $3.25 million over two years as part of an agreement the community signed with Ottawa in 2007.
“This investment will allow Kashechewan First Nation to make strides in addressing their housing shortage,” said Duncan, in the statement.
Kashechewan residents were evacuated in 2005 after high levels of E. coli were found in the community’s water system, causing widespread sickness. The Canadian military also sent a water purification unit to the community.
Kashechewan Chief Jonathan Solomon said the housing money would also provide training in construction for some in this community.
“This investment will allow skilled tradesmen from our community to build quality homes for the people who need them,” said Solomon, in the statement.
The Conservative government is now locked in a legal battle with Attawapiskat, a neighbouring James Bay community, over Duncan’s decision to impose a third-party manager to take over the band’s finances.
A housing crisis in Attawapiskat, where many families live in tents of shacks with no running water or insulation, set the federal government on its heels for weeks.
The Canadian Red Cross was asked to intervene to provide aid to the community as harsh winter temperatures began to grip the region.
Ottawa has since said it would be sending 22 modular houses to the community by the end of January.
Temporary shelter in the community’s healing lodge is being prepared as a temporary measure until the houses arrive.
Liberal interim leader Bob Rae and Liberal Aboriginal affairs critic Carolyn Bennett are visiting the community this weekend.