... From: RUSSELL DIABO To: Undisclosed-Recipient:;@priv-edtnaa04.telusplanet.net Sent: Monday, January 01, 2007 9:30 AM Subject: Kashechewan natives balk at
Message 1 of 1
, Jan 1, 2007
----- Original Message -----
From: RUSSELL DIABO
Sent: Monday, January 01, 2007 9:30 AM
Subject: Kashechewan natives balk at leaving home
Kashechewan natives balk at leaving home
From Monday's Globe and Mail
OTTAWA � The residents of Kashechewan are generally cool to the idea of leaving their remote James Bay community to live 450 kilometres south in Timmins, Ont., says deputy chief Philip Goodwin.
But it will be at least another two months before Ottawa gets a formal response from the community, he said, because the door-to-door canvassing of the 1,550 residents will not start until later this month.
At the request of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, former Progressive Conservative Ontario cabinet minister Alan Pope issued recommendations Nov. 9 on how to address the community's problems.
Residents are frequently evacuated because of poor drinking water or flooding. There is virtually no employment other than at the band council and the homes are overcrowded and decrepit.
Mr. Pope's call for the community to abandon its traditional lands in favour of urban life triggered a nationwide debate on the sustainability of the hundreds of other remote reserves in Canada.
"People are confused because of the recommendations that were made by Alan Pope," said Mr. Goodwin, who was reached by phone at the band office. "Lately I've been hearing a lot of people [talk] about moving up the river [known as] Site 5. There's not too many people who are interested in going down south, but the answers will be at the end of February."
The previous Liberal government promised to build a new community for the residents on higher ground, widely assumed to be at the location called Site 5, about 30 kilometres from the town.
That was the recommendation of Kashechewan's chief and council at the time; however, new leaders have since been elected.
However the Liberals never put forward a spending plan for parliamentary approval to build the new community, and the new government has questioned the cost of building an entirely new town in such a remote part of the country.
In his report, Mr. Pope put forward four possible options for moving the community, including Site 5, Fort Albany, Smooth Rock Falls and Timmins.
Mr. Pope wrote that in his door-to-door discussions with residents, a "significant minority" said they prefer Site 5, but most want to move farther away.
"A significant majority of community members believe that the best interests of themselves, of their children and families, and of the entire community are served by a relocation of the community to a new reserve removed from the Albany River and the traditional lands of the Kashechewan First Nation," he wrote.
Mr. Pope said that choice was conditional on having regular access to traditional lands and receiving "all economic benefits from, and control over economic, industrial and commercial use of their traditional lands and resources."
Those traditional lands are part of the 1905 Treaty 9, whereby natives allowed Europeans to use native lands for mining and other purposes in exchange for reserves and annual payments of $4 each.
The value of those lands, however, is rising dramatically. Diamonds have been found 90 kilometres from Attawapiskat, a neighbouring James Bay community.
Mr. Goodwin said he is aware of only a small number of Kashechewan residents who will receive jobs at the DeBeers Victor Diamond Project.
The community had its first meeting to discuss the report on Nov. 30 and Chief Jonathan Solomon reportedly urged residents not to let the issue divide them.
"Look beyond yourselves, look to the future and ask the question: 'What do I want for my children and grandchildren?' It is you who will make a difference."
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