Lifeline Lost, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation remains under state of emergency. - APTN NewsAPTN News

Lifeline Lost, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation remains under state of emergency.

Dennis Ward
APTN National News
SHOAL LAKE 40 FIRST NATION, Ont. — A mechanic is expected in Shoal Lake 40 First Nation Monday to assess the community’s only link to the mainland.

The Amik II ferry is a lifeline for the community 140 kilometres due east of Winnipeg in Ontario

And the loss of the ferry has cut off all vehicular access, including health services and more importantly, water delivery.

Although the lake supplies Winnipeg with all of its drinking water, the community has been under a boil advisory for 18 years and potable water must be trucked in from nearby Kenora, Ont.

Last Thursday, chief and council made the decision to declare a state of emergency after the community owned ferry was forced out of service.

“Normal life here is virtually impossible,” said Chief Erwin Redsky.  A repair company is looking at the ferry Monday to determine the extent of the damage and costs to repair it.

The AMIK II did not pass Transport Canada’s latest inspection.

Inspectors will be back in the community later this week to take another look at the ferry.

Meanwhile, the chief is calling the situation a “crisis.”

Redsky said the long term solution would be a commitment from the federal government, the province of Manitoba and Winnipeg to fully fund the construction of an all-weather road in and out of the community.

So far, the three levels of government have each committed $1 million towards the design stage of the project.

On Monday, the Green Party of Canada called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt to restore ferry service to the community and work toward construction of an all-weather road.

In a release, deputy leader of the Green party Bruce Hyer said “we’ve heard enough excuses from all governments.”
The member of Parliament for Thunder Bay–Superior North said “real action is long overdue – in fact, it is a century overdue,” according to the release.

A spokesperson from Minister Bernard Valcourt’s office sent this statement to APTN National News.

“Our immediate priority is ensuring the health and safety of the Shoal Lake residents; that’s why our emergency management team is in regular contact with the community,” the spokesperson said in the statement. “We continue to offer assistance should the community require any. So far, no requests have been made.

“We are also working with the First Nation and Health Canada to ensure that residents have access to medical services.”

Shoal Lake 40 was cut off from the mainland a century ago in order to divert water from Shoal Lake to Winnipeg.

dward@aptn.ca

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