Closing Thunder Bay to First Nation Evacuees “Unthinkable”

Canadian Rangers assisting in Pikangikum evacuation
Canadian Rangers assisting in Pikangikum evacuation - Image Canadian Armed Forces

THUNDER BAY – Community Submission – The recent announcement that Thunder Bay is closed to potential First Nations evacuees is unbelievable, unconscionable, and inhuman.

“This is not who we are as a City,” said CUSP member Courtney Strutt. “As a regional hub for health care and supply distribution, we have the capacity to work in partnership with First Nation communities to help, should it be necessary, and we must have the will to do so. This decision does not reflect the values of respect and friendship.”

“When the country is coming together and supporting each other as never before,” said CUSP member Aynsley Klassen, “how can we put up the barricades? We’ve got a regional hospital, almost empty hotels, and many surplus buildings that could be used as crisis centers with time now to plan for a safe transition. This decision must be changed immediately.”

“An influx of evacuees would clearly be more difficult for Thunder Bay in the middle of a pandemic than during more normal times, but there’s a pandemic everywhere,” said CUSP member Paul Berger. “Suggesting that the government prepare tents for evacuees is unacceptable. We must be better than that.”

Closing the City to evacuees would appear to be the worst possible response to Northwestern Ontarians in a crisis. We define who we are by the choices we make and believe that most residents of Thunder Bay will be aghast when they learn of this decision. We face troubling and uncertain times. The current pandemic will pass, but the future holds more disruptions. We need to commit to facing them together; our humanity demands this of us.


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