06/06/2014 10:06 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:03 EDT

Kashechewan leaders meeting in Ottawa after flooding on reserve

The leaders of Kashechewan First Nation are meeting with officials in Ottawa this week as 1,600 people remain displaced due to damage caused by floods on the reserve near James Bay.

The northern reserve was evacuated almost a month ago after flooding reached a state of emergency. Deputy Chief Amos Wesley said the community needs a permanent solution to the perennial problem. 

"It's an ongoing issue. It seems inevitable that we are evacuated every year. It's very sad to see the faces of our children, especially our elders, when they have to go through that fear and stress," he said.

Chief Derek Stephen said more than 20 homes and a medical clinic are in major need of repairs. Leaders are scheduled to meet with Health Canada officials on Friday to discuss when the clinic can be re-opened so that residents can return home. They met with officials from Aboriginal Affairs on Thursday.

"Every spring we realize the dangers of living in our area," Stephen said. "We're just sick and tired of being evacuated and using taxpayer dollars. We hate seeing it all go to waste."

Kashechewan is positioned on a low lying area along the Albany River. Leaders have previously asked to relocate but the federal government rejected a $500 million plan to establish a new reserve on higher ground in 2007 in favour of a $200 million plan to reinforce the reserve.