November 24, 2011
You would be forgiven for thinking this was the home of someone living in a slum somewhere in a developing country. This ‘house’ has no running water, no electricity, and no toilet facilities. The people who live here use a bucket and empty it on the side of the road.
According to a local doctor, families are facing “immediate risk” of infection, disease and possible fire from their increasingly precarious conditions. They face no electricity, little access to clean water, and lack of basic sanitation as well as extreme weather conditions. Even worse, the situation is so bad that the local school has been closed. So now the children are not receiving a formal education.
Who should be taking action? The Red Cross? UNICEF? Medecins sans frontiers? Oxfam? Someone should be doing something, right?
How would you feel if this was happening in your own country? We assume that it would not happen here in Canada. After all, Canada is home to three of the top five most livable cities in the world, tremendous resources, and is ranked in the top 15 wealthiest countries in the world….
But it is happening here! Attawapiskat First Nation, near James Bay in northern Ontario, recently declared a state of emergency due to the rapidly deteriorating living conditions for its 2,000 residents, many of whom are facing a winter without adequate shelter. With many families living in tents and makeshift shacks without heat, plumbing or electricity, Chief Theresa Spence took the unprecedented step of asking provincial authorities to evacuate her community from their homes.
Small Change Fund’s advisors, staff and board believe this issue is so important that we have set a goal that in 2012 at least 35% of the projects we ask donors to support are from aboriginal communities or organizations.
What can you do to help?
Over 6000 people have signed this petition, which has now closed and today was sent to Hon. John Duncan, the Minister of Indian and Northern Development. You can email Minister Duncan. Or, please contact your local MP and let them know it is time that First Nations communities have the same access to basic human rights, housing, education and health as other communities in Canada.
You can also help by sharing this video and encouraging others to do the same:
As of today there is still no action from the government on the State of Emergency in Attawapiskat. Winter is here and time is running out for this community. It is time our Federal Government took action and responded to these pleas for help. Please do your part today!