Temporary solution found for elementary students in Kashechewan, federal government says

Elementary school students in Kashechewan will start classes next Monday, two weeks after others in Ontario hit the books.

Local MPP calls on province to step up

Elementary school students in Kashechewan will start classes next Monday, two weeks after others in Ontario hit the books.

Last month, Chief Leo Friday called a state of emergency to draw attention to the mould and deteriorating conditions of the 10-year-old portable classrooms. He said the portables were in poor condition and in violation of of applicable building codes and health and safety requirements.

However, a decision has been reached to send the elementary school students to the high school where they'll share the building with the high school students in shifts.

Federal minister of Indigenous services, Jane Philpott, says she's working with the community on a longer term solution.

"My top priority is that these kids deserve a top quality education and we will do everything necessary to make sure that is possible," she said.

"I hope to have as many options available … to look at what will be the least disruptive for the students and at the same time a safe and appropriate location for them to get a good education."

Philpott says she'll be meeting with the chief and other community leaders next week to draw up a list of options.

'Ignoring' northern issues

Meanwhile, the topic of the school came up at Queen's Park.

Mushkegowuk-James Bay MPP Guy Bourgouin toured the community on Saturday and shared his concerns with the legislature.

"The community of Kaschechewan ordered their school closed because of the repair backlog. There is chronic water damage. The walls grow hot but the fire alarms don't work," he said.

"This government has a Toronto obsession and they are ignoring the urgent issues facing northern Ontario and rural Ontario."

Premier Doug Ford didn't specially respond to the concern. He told Bourgouin his government is working to improve transit and the economy.

With files from Kate Rutherford