Federal, provincial governments to sign action plan for Kashechewan's future
'All of Canada knows that this community has been through way too much,' Carolyn Bennett says
Federal and provincial Indigenous affairs ministers are expected to visit the remote James Bay First Nation of Kashechewan, Ont., on Friday to sign a new framework agreement on the community's future.
Chief Leo Friday told CBC News he hopes the meeting will result in a financial commitment towards the reserve's relocation to higher ground.
"If they want to continue spending $20 million on flood evacuations, I think you're crazy," Friday said.
"Why not build houses for $20 million every year?"
Band-Aid solutions 'not enough'
He said it would be money well spent, considering how much it costs to fly people away from the rising waters of the Albany River during spring flooding.
"We've been receiving some Band-Aid solutions," Friday said.
"Not enough to make things workable. Just barely."
Eighty-nine per cent of the First Nation voted in favour of relocation during a referendum held last year.
The outcome is expected to be top of mind for Friday when he meets with a group of delegates visiting his community, including federal Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, Ontario's Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation David Zimmer and leaders of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.
'See a path forward'
"I think all of Canada knows that this community has been through way too much," Bennett said ahead of Friday's meeting.
"It's a hugely important day for, finally, the community to come home, there will be housing and they can see a path forward."
Friday said he hopes the agreement will improve life for his members and unite people who have been separated by the evacuations to Kapuskasing and Timmins, Ont.
"It is hard for our elders, our young people and our babies," Friday said.
"If there's a safer place here in the community, they'll all come back."