THUNDER BAY – Editorial – On January 5 2012, Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan stated: “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.” The modular homes headed to the community should be there fairly soon, they are in transit, and waiting for the approval for heavy loads on the ice road into Attawapiskat.
The only problem for Minister Duncan, and for his third party manager is that in attempting to take credit for the purchase of the modular homes, the flip-side is they get to deal with the problems too.
The Minister and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs have no comment when it comes to having answers on many of the issues facing Attawapiskat. It is making the Minister, and the Government look bad. Take the issue of the modular homes, it was touted as the solution to the problems in the community.
Fingers of blame were pointed at the Chief, Council and people of Attawapiskat.
When asked, “Are there sites prepared for these modular homes?”, there has been no comment from the Minister.
When asked, “If so, do those sites have water, sewage and electrical ready to hook up to the modular homes?”, once again the Minister is silent.
When asked, “If not, then what is the timeline to have sites prepared?” Once again the answer is silence.
The reality is that it is going to take a lot more work, including expansion of electrical service in Attawapiskat in order to make sure that these modular homes are habitable.
When it comes to the retrofitting of the Healing Lodge in Attawapiskat, there are reports that families are leaving the Healing Lodge. There is no telephone service to the building reportedly, and because it is located several kilometres out of the community people staying there are feeling very issolated.
Right now the Attawapiskat First Nation is in court, seeking an injunction to end the third party management set in place by Minister Duncan back in December. Perhaps once images start circulating of the modular homes sitting on the ground in Attawapiskat, waiting for spring so all the needed upgrades can be done to the sites they will be places, along with the upgrades to the electrical system needed to handle the added load, there can be a gathering with the Minister and the Chief and Council in Attawapiskat.
At such a gathering they can start planning and working together to make a difference. Its overdue.
Chief Content Officer
Photo: Christoper Kataquapit – all rights reserved to the photographer.