Labrador Innu urge Ottawa to fight Natuashish mould

The chief of the Labrador Innu town of Natuashish is calling on the federal government to do more to help his community fight a serious mould problem.

Report found the community is riddled with fungus

Natuashish is an Innu community on Labrador's northern coast.

The chief of the Labrador Innu town of Natuashish is calling on the federal government to do more to help his community fight a serious mould problem.

Simeon Tshakapesh said Ottawa must take action after an engineering and environmental consultant found homes in the coastal town are riddled with mould.

"Really poor construction, and I have been asking  Indian Affairs if these homes were constructed to the standard and if they were properly inspected or not," said Tshakapesh.

"Something went wrong over the construction."

100 homes inspected

This fall,  Maritime Testing, an engineering and environmental consulting company, looked at 100 houses in the community of fewer than 1,000 people living in about 200 homes.

Almost all the houses that were inspected had mould. Some had species of mould that are toxic and linked to human illnesses.

"Certain species, considered to be either notoriously toxigenic or pathogenic should not be present in the buildings," said the consultant’s report.

Maritime Testing said the homes' ventilation systems were not correctly installed, leading to higher levels of moisture.

"The lack of ventilation is mainly responsible for the observed mould growth. Humidity and extensive condensation occurs resulting from lack of fresh air resulting in significant wetness and mould growth," its report said.

 It also said many homes aren't being cleaned properly, which is contributing to the problem.

Homes built 10 years ago

The federal government built the homes 10 years ago, after the community, beleaguered with substance-abuse problems, was moved from Davis Inlet.

Mould in a basement of one of the homes in Natuashish that was inspected recently. ((Maritime Testing))
Back then, images of children sniffing gas to get high were broadcast around the world.

Drinking and drug abuse are still causing trouble in the dry community.

Last month, a man suspected of trying to smuggle drugs into Natuashish was arrested while boarding a plane to the northern Labrador community.

In 2008, Natuashish residents narrowly voted to approve a ban on alcohol in the community.

Now Tshakapesh believes every home, including his own, is now dealing with mould.

"I discovered something in the washroom — there was a big, a big huge mould growing in the washroom," he said.

Tshskapesh fears it’s affecting the health of his newborn grandson, who has trouble breathing when he visits.