Attawapiskat housing help talks ongoing
The Department of Aboriginal Affairs says talks are ongoing with the Attawapiskat First Nation in regards to housing aid but the government has not received a proposal for new funding.
Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence said Thursday morning that a deal had been reached with the department at a meeting in Thunder Bay that would give her community $2.5 million in housing aid.
Spence said more than 250 homes are needed immediately in Attawapiskat, a Cree community of 2,000 near James Bay.
Many residents have been living in makeshift tents and shacks that lack heat, electricity and plumbing. Earlier in November, Spence declared a state of emergency for the First Nations community.
Spence said Thursday that the government had pledged an additional $2 million on top of $500,000 that had already been committed.
Geneviève Guibert, a spokeswoman for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, said in an email Thursday that the department is in "ongoing discussions with Attawapiskat First Nation; however, we have not received a proposal for new funding to date."
Guibert said the government had recently committed roughly $500,000 to Attawapiskat First Nation for renovations on five vacant housing units. She also said the government has provided "significant funding" to Attawapiskat First Nation for housing on the reserve, though she did not provide detailed figures.
"This includes a significant boost from Canada's Economic Action Plan and funding dedicated to a new subdivision, of which 44 houses have been completed," she said.
Timmins-James Bay NDP MP Charlie Angus has been outspoken about what he says is a "humanitarian crisis" in the community. He called for more clarity about funding for the remote community.
"This is now four weeks into the crisis and we haven't heard any confirmation of money," Angus said.
"I don't know what's going on with this money but we want clarification because it's just wrong to string this community along and give them false hope."