Attawapiskat housing protest is over, says chief

The protest about the continuing housing crisis in Attawapiskat has ended, according to the First Nation chief.
A group of protesters gathering in front of the band office in Attawapiskat says the community's housing needs have not been met. (Jackie Hookimaw-Witt)

The protest in front of the band office in Attawapiskat has ended, according to the First Nation chief.

Several protesters were camping out in front of the band office to protest the continuing housing problems

Resident Hookimaw-Witt, who stopped by to support the protesters, said many of those camping out were the ones that require homes.

"So what they have is a tent set up, that is where they are sleeping," Hookimaw-Wiit said. "And then outside the tent is a half cut steel barrel where they are making their open fire."

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence said she spoke with the protestors about the struggle to provide housing for everyone and that they have now removed their tent.

Hookimaw-Witt said there is still tension in the community over who should move into the 22 new modular homes. The homes were sent to the reserve by the federal government this past winter after the community issued a state of emergency regarding a severe lack of housing.

The band estimates the reserve needs about 300 new homes to truly solve the housing shortage.

Approximately 50 people are still living in converted utility trailers that the bands says is substandard and another 23 people are being housed at the community’s healing lodge.

The isolated First Nation located at the mouth of the Attawapiskat River on the James Bay Coast made headlines in late 2011 when Chief Theresa Spence called a state of emergency.

In May of this year, the First Nation issued a release about the ongoing housing shortage.

"Despite the installation of the mobile homes, there remain dozens of families and individuals living in unsafe conditions at Attawapiskat," the release read. "The First Nation has requested Canada's assistance, through the Department, in securing safe housing for all its members, in short term, and in the long term."