Ontario Regional Chief on Wildfire Evacuations

Ontario Regional Chief Roseanne Archibald
National Chief Roseanne Archibald

ORC Requesting that municipalities open their doors to their northern neighbours during this crisis

TORONTO – Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald is responding to the second evacuation of Pikangikum First Nation in just over a month. Community members of Pikangikum First Nation are being evacuated due to an ongoing and out of control fire crisis that is quickly spreading over Northern Ontario and impacting neighbouring communities. Pikangikum First Nation is located 510 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, Ontario with a population of approximately 4,300 members. Due to significant smoke and nearby fires, Chief and Council declared a state of emergency on July 5.

“First, I would like to commend Chief Amanda Sainnawap for her leadership in taking extra precautions to keep the community safe and minimize significant risk to youth and elders during this time,” said Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald. “We are also grateful for the assistance provided by the Canadian Rangers, who have been aiding the community of Pikangikum since their first evacuation, along with the Ontario Fire Marshall, Emergency Management Ontario, Indigenous Affairs Ontario and Indigenous Services Canada for their efforts.”

“Currently, there is a significant shortage of hosts and resources. We understand that Pikangikum evacuees are now being sent to Saskatchewan. There’s no good reason why we aren’t looking after our own here in Ontario. We are requesting that municipalities open their doors to their northern neighbours during this crisis.” said Regional Chief Archibald.

More than 20 communities in Ontario have been impacted by these wildfires and two First Nation communities are in full evacuation due to the fire crisis in Northern Ontario – Pikangikum and Keewaywin.

“These tragedies are far too frequent for First Nations communities. Families and individuals require services and specialized human resources to support them during their evacuation. These must include security guards, social workers, nurses and child welfare support workers.”

“These communities are in crisis mode. As Regional Chief, I am requesting all levels of government to ramp up their efforts to intervene and mobilize, as well as to prepare for additional Armed Forces to assist, as more communities may be evacuated if the fire is not contained. We are also requesting that any First Nation communities in Ontario who can act as a host community and provide support to these community members during this extremely difficult time, to contact the Chiefs of Ontario and express interest. Funding is readily available to ensure that First Nations will have the resources and capacity to host evacuees.”

Chiefs of Ontario and Regional Chief Archibald will be monitoring this situation closely alongside with Nishnawbe Aski Nation and the Independent First Nations Alliance (IFNA) and will continue to support communities throughout this crisis.

Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald

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