With the basics of food, shelter and medical care in place, Thunder Bay officials are turning their attention to keeping evacuees from Kashechewan First Nation occupied.


Deputy Fire Chief Greg Hankkio says providing recreation is an important part of helping evacuees from Kashechewan First Nation to feel at home in Thunder Bay. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

More than 150 people designated as vulnerable, including families with children, the elderly and people with illness, were airlifted from the community on Sunday to escape flooding of the Albany River.

They've been staying at the Victoria Inn.

Thunder Bay deputy fire chief Greg Hankkio said providing activities for people is an important part of the emergency response.

"This is a traumatic time for them," he said. "The whole idea behind it is to give them something to do ... and to make them more comfortable and feel welcome while they're here ... and try and take their minds off of ... some of the events that may be happening back in their communities.

William Nakogee welcomed the news that activities were in the works, saying that his teenage children would benefit from recreation while they're waiting until they can go home.

"Anything will do, like hockey, basketball, baseball," he said.

Nakogee said he would especially like to see cultural activities.

"If they bring somebody from one of the reserves ... to show them how to do arts and crafts that would be awesome."

On Wednesday, Hankkio said the city's recreation and culture staff were teaming up with representatives from Aboriginal Affairs to plan activities for everyone from children to elders.

Hoping for city tours

Kashechewan First Nation band councillor David Lazarus said some members of his community are afraid to go out on their own in the city, and organized outings would be appreciated.

"That's what I want for my people," he said. "Some of them haven't seen Thunder Bay."

Lazarus added that he would like to see the Terry Fox monument.

Hankkio said officials are looking at offering tours of local attractions and trips to the Intercity Shopping Centre.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Thunder Bay was housing 166 Kashechewan residents at the Victoria Inn.

The municipality of Greenstone is hosting another 98 evacuees.

Mayor Ron Beaulieu said they arrived Monday night and were staying in hotels in Geraldton and Longlac.