Chief Elizabeth Atlookan on the loss of the Community Hall

There is nothing left of the community hall. A vital part of the community.
There is nothing left of the community hall. A vital part of the community.

There is nothing left of the community hall. A vital part of the community.
There is nothing left of the community hall. A vital part of the community of Eabametoong First Nation.

Eabametoong First Nation – It was a shock for everyone. It was such a heartbreaking thing to wake up to smoke coming from the Hall. Our community has suffered so much over the last two years, and it has compounded in the last few weeks as we’ve lost community members to tragedy after tragedy.

Smoke from fire as Eabametoong First Nation Community Hall burns
Smoke from fire as Eabametoong First Nation Community Hall burns

It is heartbreaking to see the place where we gather to share our grief, overcome our trials, and truly come together has now been taken from all of us. It was not just a building, our community hall was the heartbeat of our community; for celebrations, for dances, for healing, and for meetings of all kinds.

We have received some encouraging messages from various government branches to assist us in rebuilding; but not many firm commitments yet. We are also pursuing new counselling and crisis support services for our members who are in pain.

Eabametoong First Nation
Fire fighters try to save Eabametoong First Nation Community Hall

What we need to do is work together to ensure those promises aren’t just aspirations, but have real outcomes for community members as soon as possible.

We are in need of a community hall, not just a place for gathering, but a new commitment from Federal and Provincial partners to work with us to design and build a multi-use Community Centre with a focus on youth and training. Our families and youth need a place to call their own, grow together, and pursue education and skills training. Those are goals that will benefit everyone and multiply our investment in the community to future generations.

We recognize that it will take time to rebuild. Our challenge is that the Community Hall was booked nearly every day for events, training sessions, and critical discussions on local and regional development. We have a pressing need to develop an interim solution, a meeting space that we can use so that community business can go on.

There is so much pressure right now for communications and discussion around regional development options and ways to participate in planning for the future (see April 7th Article), and we simply cannot carry on those aspects of our work without meeting space.”

Chief Elizabeth Atlookan