Kashechewan Chief declares state of emergency as school portables deemed unsafe for students

In a press release issued Friday, Chief Leo Friday said after an emergency meeting Thursday, the community agreed to keep portable classrooms shut.

Citing building code, health and safety violations in portables, Kashechewan delays school opening

A few thousand people live in Kashechewan, a remote first nation on Ontario's James Bay Coast. (Erik White/CBC )

Some students in Kashechewan First Nation may be delayed in returning to school this fall.

In a news release issued Friday, Chief Leo Friday said leaders in the community have made the decision to keep portable classrooms shut, following an emergency meeting.

He said the portables are in poor condition and in violation of applicable building codes and health and safety requirements.

Friday said the doors will remain locked until renovations or upgrades can be completed.

"Like all the children, educators and parents in Ontario, providing a safe environment for our children to learn and grow continues to be a top priority for us and we take this very seriously," Friday said in the statement.

"The postponement of classes for our children is a crisis and in order to get some immediate action we have decided to declare this as a "state of emergency" because we want our children back in school as soon as possible."

Relocation efforts underway since 2005

Deputy Chief Hosea Wesley said Kashechewan is working with the federal government on a community relocation project that began in 2005, and was revived in 2015.

"We continue to be under a state of emergency for our housing crisis that includes several homes that were destroyed by fire and mould, causing overcrowding for many families and children, and this directly affects our children's ability to learn in a safe environment," Wesley said.

Wesley said the community has been working with Indigenous Affairs Canada to replace the portables with what he called "real school facilities."