Northern Ontario Aboriginal Communities: Attawapiskat Not The Only Native Reserve In Trouble
If the news of squalid housing conditions in the northwestern Ontario First Nations community of Attawapaskat sounds familiar, it should. Here are just a few of the other Canadian native reserves that have made similar headlines:
Pikangikum: This Ontario community has been cited as having the highest suicide rate in the world. At least 16 people committed suicide between 2006 and 2008, with five youth taking their own lives during a two-month stretch earlier this year. The reserve's only school has not been replaced since it was burned to the ground in June 2007. In October 2006, local health officials warned residents were at risk of developing serious diseases because the community lacked a proper water system.
Constance Lake: This reserve near Cochrane, Ont., issued a plea to the federal government in 2010 after Ottawa announced it was cutting shipments of bottled water to the community. Community members say their water is unsafe to drink and they depend on outside assistance.
Eabametoong First Nation: Rising crime rates and rampant drug use prompted a state of emergency in this northern Ontario community in November 2010. The federal and provincial government sent resources for 24-hour policing.
Cross Lake: Manitoba's second-largest reserve, located 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg, declared a state of emergency in July 2006 when its nursing station was shut down indefinitely. Community members said they were in a state of medical crisis due to lack of adequate health care resources and said people were dying while en route to the nearest medical facility three hours away.
Kashechewan: This fly-in community in northwestern Ontario was evacuated three times between 2005 and 2006 due to water contamination, poor housing and repeated flooding. The federal government has promised to relocate the community to higher ground, a project it says will take at least a decade.
Sheshatshiu/Davis Inlet: These neighbouring Innu communities near Goose Bay in Labrador made national headlines due to an epidemic of alcoholism and drug use, particularly among youth. Davis Inlet was relocated and renamed Natuashish in 2002, and an alcohol ban was narrowly implemented in 2008. Both communities, however, complained of a housing shortage as recently as February 2011.