THUNDER BAY – Deer Lake First Nation is struggling with a tragedy. Henry Meekis a fifty-six year old man was operating a Bombardier ice-road grooming machine on December 21st. The machine went through the ice of a lake and Mr. Meekis was unable to have escaped the machine before is went through the ice.
The Ontario Provincial Police, sent a dive team to recover the body of Mr. Meekis. That task was accomplished on Sunday.
An Ontario Provincial Police dive team recovered the body of Henry Meekis, 56, of Deer Lake First Nation on Sunday.
Deer Lake First Nation is 700 kilometers northwest of Thunder Bay. Deer Lake First Nation is a small Oji-Cree community which holds 1653.6 hectars of land located approximately 180 kilometers north of Red Lake, Ontario. It has an on-reserve population of approximately 1,100, and a total membership of approximately 1,200. It is accessible year-round by air, and during the winter months by ice road. It is connected to Sandy Lake First Nation, and North Spirit Lake First Nation during the coldest months of the winter.
Winter Roads in Northern Ontario
Northern Ontario communities rely on the ice roads as an economic life-line in winter to get in supplies into the communities that are needed over the entire year.
Winter roads connect 31 remote First Nation communities with a permanent highway or railway system. From around mid-January until spring thaw (usually late March), these winter roads make it easier and less costly for people to travel and bring in supplies.
In 2011, Ontario contributed $4.75M to construct and maintain the roads. During the last winter road season there was construction and operation of a 3,021 km winter road system.