Ottawa, Ontario (January 5, 2012) – The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, released the following statement today in response to a misleading press release from the Mushkegowuk Tribal Council:
"Our Government continues to put the health and safety of the people of Attawapiskat first. Since the community declared a State of Emergency, we have acted quickly to ensure the residents of Attawapiskat had access to safe shelter and were provided with urgent necessities and to ensure that long-term housing would be made available as soon as possible.
We worked quickly with our partners, such as Emergency Management Ontario and the Canadian Red Cross, and have delivered urgent supplies such as composting toilets, high efficiency heaters, building supplies, cots, and sanitary products. Twenty-two modular homes were also purchased and will be delivered to the community as soon as the winter roads open. So that families could access safe, warm shelter, our Government retrofitted the healing lodge for any of the 25 families living in tents and shacks as temporary shelter. We reiterate that there is space in the healing lodge to accommodate families who require safe, warm shelter.
The department also appointed a third-party manager to address the urgent health and safety needs of the community. So far, the third-party manager has been key to the delivery of these necessities, the retrofitting of the Healing Lodge, and the purchasing of modular homes.
As was addressed in a letter from the Minister on January 4, 2012, to Chief Spence, the third-party manager is ready to issue payroll cheques for essential services, such as teachers' salaries, and will do so as soon as he is provided with the necessary information from the Chief and Council.
In regards to Kashechewan, I met with Chief Jonathan Solomon in December 2011. Our Government is providing a total of $3.25 million over two years to build 20 new houses and to renovate many more and to address other community challenges.
My office has been in direct contact with Chief Andrew Solomon of Fort Albany and is working with him directly to address the priorities in his community.
To be clear, the third-party manager has been helping to address the urgent needs of the community and to deliver tangible results. In addition, once the proper documentation is provided by the First Nation he will be in a position to issue payroll cheques for all essential services.
We will continue to deliver for the residents of Attawapiskat and we strongly urge Chief Spence and the Mushkegowuk Tribal Council to join in on this action."
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