The Canadian Press
The Kashechewan First Nation in northern Ontario has an agreement with the federal and provincial governments that lays out a plan to move the reserve annually threatened by flood waters.
Kashechewan, located north of Fort Albany, Ont., along the James Bay coast, has had to repeatedly evacuate from flooding and infrastructure problems, including last month when a state of emergency forced more than 2,500 members to fly to other locations across the province.
“I hope that the people of Kashechewan, who have been evacuated for several weeks now as a precautionary measure, will soon be able to return home safely, knowing that we hear them and are acting,” said Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan.
The First Nation has been asking for years to be relocated to higher ground.
In front of 300 community members today, the federal and provincial governments signed an agreement with the First Nation to commit to moving the reserve.
Indigenous O’Regan said the relocation process will likely take around eight years under the terms of the agreement that he hopes assures the community that it will not face flooding issues forever.
“I would like to thank Chief Leo Friday, Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald, Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon for their efforts to advance this crucial work together,” said O’Regan.
“With this Framework Agreement in place, we have a clear path forward to meet the needs of the community, both in the immediate and long term.”
NDP MP Charlie Angus, whose riding includes Kashechewan, calls the deal a very important step and says it is the result of pressure from the community who are tired of spending their springs in evacuation centres.
Ontario’s Minister of Indigenous Affairs Greg Rickford says the province is on board.
“The Ontario Government is committed to do everything in its authority to support the relocation of Kashechewan First Nation,” Rickford said in a statement.