Sudbury

Kashechewan evacuees to begin returning home as early as today

Officials in Kashechewan have rescinded an evacuation order put in place this month because of potential flooding — and people could start returning home as early as today.

Evacuation order rescinded by chief and council Monday

"Based on the Elder’s recommendations, Chief and Council have formally rescinded the pre-emptive evacuation on the Emergency Declaration for our members due to potential Flood Risks," said a release from Kashechewan on Monday. (Canadian Press)

Officials in Kashechewan have rescinded an evacuation order put in place this month because of potential flooding — and people could start returning home as early as today. 

In a statement released Monday by chief and council in the James Bay community, the decision came after elders surveyed river ice from the air, and determined the danger has passed.

In total, about 1,000 people — most of them elderly and young — were flown out as a precaution, ahead of rising flood waters on the Albany River. 

They were put up in hotel rooms in Kapuskasing, Thunder Bay, Wawa and Smooth Rock Falls.

Now, with word that the flooding threat has passed for another year, "the repatriation will start as soon as [Tuesday] and the necessary arrangements are being made for everybody to be home safe," according to the release

Flooding in Kashechewan is an annual threat. As people packed for another evacuation weeks ago, Deputy Chief Hosea Wesley said all the talk was about permanently moving the community.

After the last major flood a decade ago, there was a plan to move Kashechewan to higher ground up river, but the federal government said at the time it was too expensive.

"Our members both at home and in Kapuskasing [those evacuated two years ago after their houses were damaged by flooding] are miserable and angry at how past agreements with the Government of Canada has unraveled to this date," continued Chief Leo Friday in the release. 

"They are concerned about the dyke safety and can see the panic measures put in place by [Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada] every spring. My people need to have comfort and safety in real terms to their lives."

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