A northern Manitoba First Nation has shut down its only school amid fears about asbestos under the building.
The Berens River First Nation's chief and council closed the school this week, after construction crews found what appeared to be bags of asbestos under the foundation.
"They took it and stored it underneath the school," Chief George Kemp told reporters in Winnipeg on Tuesday afternoon.
"If you're going to remove a dangerous material, you don't take it and put it underneath a school."
The chief said the Frontier School Division recently conducted an asbestos abatement program at the school, but he wants to know why bags of asbestos were left behind.
Kemp and the First Nation's lawyers called on the Manitoba government to investigate the matter.
In the meantime, the school will remain closed until it is deemed to be safe, he said.
"My concern right now is, you know, a lot of workers that have worked in that building have complained and complained and complained about being sick," Kemp said.
In a statement, the province said the school division has made arrangements for an independent expert to fly to Berens River to inspect the school.
"Unfortunately, based on our knowledge, this expert has been unable to get access to the school due to an order by chief and council," the province's statement read in part.
"We hope community leaders will grant the expert access to the school to confirm it is safe so that students can return to class as soon as possible."
The province said the Frontier School Division conducted air quality tests at the Berens River school in 2010, at the community's request, and determined that asbestos remediation needed to take place.
The division hired a qualified asbestos remediation company to remove the material from the school safely, the province said.
Berens River is about 300 kilometres north of Winnipeg.