May 29, 2012 7:28 pm
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TO: All First Nations Chiefs within Ontario
FROM: Regional Chief Angus Toulouse
DATE: December 1, 2011


The Attawapiskat First Nation declared a state of emergency on October 28, 2011. The community continues to experience deplorable living conditions, due to lack of adequate housing and infrastructure, but now the conditions are worsening.


At the time of the state of emergency announcement by Chief Spence, there were:

· 5 families living in non-insulated tents
· 19 families living in makeshift sheds without water or electricity
· 87 buildings fit for condemnation that are being used as homes for 128 families
· 35 families living in houses needing serious repair


Media coverage has increased as a result of Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus raising this issue in the House of Commons. The coverage has focused on the deplorable conditions in the community (communicated through YouTube video footage and photographs of children with burn scars and infections), to a current focus on the First Nation having received $92 million in federal funding since 2006.

Recognizing that you, as First Nations leaders, may be approached with questions or asked to comment on this issue, the COO secretariat has prepared a list of potential questions and answers to assist you (attached).


The Canadian Red Cross is currently assisting the First Nation through the provision of generators, heaters, insulated sleeping mats, blankets and winter clothing.

The Regional Chief participated in a conference call today, December 1, 2011, hosted by Grand Chief Stan Louttit. Also participating in the call were, National Chief Shawn Atleo, Chief Theresa Spence, as well as numerous other chiefs located in the north. During the call it was noted that a press conference was held this afternoon in the community to disclose the details of all federal funding received over the past five years. The community received a hand delivered letter from the Regional Director General of Aboriginal Affairs that notified the community that they are being placed under third party management (which is deemed to be AANDC’s response to the community’s declaration of a state of emergency a month ago.)

During next week’s AFN Special Chiefs Assembly, the AFN will arrange another meeting to follow today’s conference call to determine ways to continue providing further support. It was also agreed that a resolution of support for Attawapiskat, and similarly affected communities across the country, will be introduced as part of the agenda.


At the request of Chief Theresa Spence, the Chiefs of Ontario has written to both AANDC (INAC) Minister Duncan and MAA Minister Wynne requesting a meeting with the Chief. The Regional Chief has been taking media interviews to advocate for Chief Spence’s request for immediate assistance.

The Regional Chief provided an opinion piece to the Toronto Star on the situation which was published in today’s edition, December 1, 2011 (attached). Future messaging from the COO and the Regional Chief will focus on advocacy for immediate assistance, historical context and treaty obligations. Requests for commentary on the financial situation of Attawapiskat will be directed to Chief Spence as she is in the best position to speak to the specifics.


The Canadian Red Cross is collecting monetary donations for Attawapiskat. Financial donations may be made online at www.redcross.ca, by calling 1-800-418-1111 or through your local Canadian Red Cross office. Cheques should be made payable to the Canadian Red Cross, earmarked “Attawapiskat” and can also be mailed to the Canadian Red Cross, Ontario Zone, 5700 Cancross Court, Mississauga, ON, L5R 3E9.


1. COO Press Release, December 1, 2011
2. Opinion Editorial from Toronto Star, December 1, 2011

Articles worth taking a look at:

Dealing with Comments about Attawapiskat

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