More evacuees from Bearskin Lake First Nation expected in Thunder Bay Tuesday
Nearly 150 members in the city already due to flooding
More evacuees from Bearskin Lake First Nation in northwestern Ontario are expected to arrive in Thunder Bay on Tuesday, the city's deputy fire chief said.
Greg Hankkio said evacuees from the community began arriving in Thunder Bay on Friday, with 139 people now in the city.
"We're actually expecting to receive one more flight," he said. "We were hoping that — as I'm sure the community members were hoping as well — that the plane would have arrived [Sunday]."
However, weather forced the cancellation of the flight on Sunday.
"Unfortunately, they had to cancel the flight again [Monday]," he said. "We should be receiving, I think, another 29 people, but it's looking now like it won't be until [Tuesday]."
Bearskin Lake declared a state of emergency on Nov. 10 due to flooding from the Severn River.
Here is a compilation from visit to Bearskin Lake. Road between community & airport was flooded with 3-4 feet of water. <br><br>Once I landed, I saw choppers landing at airport to evacuate people on fixed winged aircraft. <br><br>In visiting, I understood the emergency is very real. <a href="https://t.co/OQOQqT5cqd">pic.twitter.com/OQOQqT5cqd</a>—@solmamakwa
Some Bearskin Lake members who are already in the city received quite the welcome to Thunder Bay on the weekend: a free ticket to see Bearskin Lake member Seth McKay and his team, the Thunder Bay North Stars, play the Thief River Falls Norskies.
McKay is a goaltender for the North Stars, who play in the Superior International Junior Hockey League.
"One of the things that happens with each evacuation is the municipality works with the community members that have come here, and also a whole host of other organizations, to develop recreational opportunities," said Darren Leishman, a Thunder Bay firefighter and acting operations manager for the evacuation.
He said the North Stars organization was "100 per cent" receptive to bringing the evacuees to the game, and offered the tickets for free.
About 25 Bearskin Lake members attended Saturday night's game at the Fort William Gardens, including eight people who drove from Sioux Lookout – which is also hosting Bearskin Lake members – to Thunder Bay specifically to watch the game, Leishman said.
"Seth did start the Saturday night game, so they did get to see him in net for a while," Leishman said. "Seth came out and gave a little speech to his friends and family from Bearskin Lake, and then ... brought the kids and some of the parents into the dressing room, met all the guys."
"It was ... 100 per cent positive experience for everybody involved."
The Norskies beat the North Stars 6-3 in Saturday's game.