Ontario Responds with Vital Support for Eabametoong First Nation Following School Fire

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Eabametoong First Nation

Comprehensive funding aimed at education, mental health, and community resilience in the wake of a devastating fire

Thunder Bay — In the aftermath of a fire that destroyed the John C. Yesno Education Centre in Eabametoong First Nation, the Ontario government has stepped in to provide critical support to the affected fly-in community.

A collaborative effort spanning several ministries is delivering a total of up to $540,000 in one-time funding, focusing on the urgent needs of the community and the displaced students.

A Community in Recovery

Solomon Atlookan, Chief of Eabametoong First Nation, shared the broader impact of the tragedy and the community’s path forward: “What has happened in our community over the past year with both of the major fires we have experienced has been quite devastating… However, it has been very positive working with Minister Rickford and Ontario’s team to help everyone understand that the deeper mental and social health issues that cause this destruction need to be addressed — not just putting up a building.”

Focused Support for Immediate Needs

The Ministry of Indigenous Affairs and the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services are spearheading the initiative, providing $250,000 to address the most pressing community needs.

This includes emergency supplies, food, and mental health resources.

Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs, emphasized the urgency of the response: “Ensuring the safety and well-being of Indigenous communities, particularly during times of crisis, is a top priority for our government. Our team mobilized quickly and continues to work closely with Eabametoong First Nation to identify the community’s needs and help rebuild crucial infrastructure.”

Additional Funding Streams

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport is contributing $150,000 to support children and youth in the community, enhancing the annual $71,500 provided through Ontario’s After School Program.

Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, highlighted the importance of these efforts: “This funding will provide critical support that responds to their needs during this challenging time, while also encouraging strength and resiliency throughout the broader community.”

The Ministry of Education is not far behind, offering an additional $240,000 to support the Keewatin Patricia District School Board’s Rapid Response Northern Schools Team. This team is vital in providing immediate educational and psychological support to the community. Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, remarked on their role: “Our priority is to help ensure students have the resources they need for uninterrupted learning during this very difficult time.”

Ongoing Collaboration Minister Michael Parsa, of Children, Community and Social Services, reiterated the long-term commitment: “We will continue to work closely with the community after this devastating fire to ensure they have the support and resources needed to overcome these challenges, and help the next generation succeed.”

As Eabametoong First Nation tackles the challenges of rebuilding and healing, the coordinated support from various Ontario ministries underscores a commitment to not just restore, but enhance the community’s resilience and well-being.

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