THUNDER BAY – The warm weather of the past weeks have shortened the ice road season. Those conditions are also impacting Kashechewan First Nation. The Chief and Council have declared a state of emergency over concerns that the river may flood the community. The speed of this year’s snow melt has caused the Albany River to break up, and during a normal winter season, the winter road is drilled full of holes at the end of the season to allow it to break up into smaller pieces.
Chief Jonathan Solomon states, “I signed off the declaration of emergency to start Phase 1 and that is the Elderly, Chronic, Pre-Natal etc. The Nursing Station and Co-ordinator are working on it. The concern is that there was a fast thaw over a week period. Most of the snow has melted throughout the area, including the inland area”.
“Yesterday the break up was about 130-140 miles up, and this afternoon it was just over sixty miles or near the Fishing Creek area. The water peak was quite high, higher than any other years”.
“We are concerned if there is an ice jam right in the community, or down the river of the community it will create a back up. The crossing on the winter road crossing is still intact, because there was no drilling opportunity because of the fast thaw”.
“I am not trying to scare everybody, this is a precautionary move”, concluded the Chief.
Right now the community is preparing to evacuate the Elders and young people.
Kashechewan is located on the north bank of the Albany River, the longest river in Ontario approximately 980 kilometers in length with a navigable distance of approximately 400 kilometers. The First Nation is situated in the district of Kenora 81 degrees west longitude and 52 degrees north latitude. It is a First Nation of the Albany Reserve #67. The closest urban centre is Timmins and is located approximately 300 miles south. The nearest community is Fort Albany; another First Nation of the Albany Reserve #67 located approximately 5 minutes by air and 12 kilometers by boat.