Marten Falls Declares Education State of Emergency

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Marten Falls (Ogoki Post) youths engineer the song that youths created.
Marten Falls (Ogoki Post) in 2016 in workshop with the late Cathy Elliott

Marten Falls – NEWS – The elementary school students of Marten Falls First Nation have now gone 105 days without being able to attend Henry Coaster Memorial School.

Sadly, this is not due to COVID-19 nor is it a new scenario for Marten Falls. Since 1999, the school has been plagued by shutdowns caused by water treatment issues, critical fire safety concerns, heating problems and an ongoing lack of accommodations for teachers.

These issues were reported by the media in 2008. The situation remains the same day. The situation is compounded by the lack of housing for members on reserve, many who had to resort to leaving the community.

The lack of accommodations for teachers has been a long standing barrier for the First Nation to attract teachers to this remote community situate at the confluence of the Albany and Ogoki Rivers.

In 1999, Marten Falls First Nation wrote to RDG Howlett of INAC to request accommodations for teachers. In the meantime, the Seniors Residence was re-purposed for teacherages. Recently, some of the apartments in the Seniors Residence have since been required for other community members who have been forced into the building due to long standing overcrowding issues and housing needs. The 1999 request has gone unanswered.

These issues have been going on for 23 years It is astonishing that the education of the children of Marten Falls First Nation continues to be disrupted by consistent school closures.

Chief Bruce Achneepineskum stated that education is critical for the children and youth at any time but particularly now when the Ring of Fire, which is situated in Marten Falls Traditional Territory, offers opportunity and prosperity.

“We have to be ready for the opportunities that await us.  Education and training are key to our success as a community. A solid education system and good teachers lay the groundwork to this success. Our children deserve this. We want to ensure they get it, but, at this juncture, there are no plans by the government to address our education needs,” states Chief Achneepineskum.

Marten Falls First Nation has a membership of 900 of which 300 resides in the community known as Ogoki Post. Marten Falls First Nation is a member of the Matawa First Nations Council and lies within the Nishnawbi Aski Nation (Treaty 9).