Attawapiskat residents to be flown out today after fire destroys homes

ATTAWAPISKAT, Ont. – About 70 residents of the remote Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario will be flown to Kapuskasing starting today

The band council declared an emergency this week in the James Bay coast community following a fire in a housing complex.

Charlie Angus, the NDP MP for the area, says two flights are planned, with the first scheduled to leave the First Nation around mid-day.

The Ontario government is arranging the air transportation out the community.

Angus says the housing complex is a “giant set of construction trailers with little holding cells that families are living in.”

In 2011, Attawapiskat became a flashpoint for relations between the Harper government and First Nations after a housing crisis triggered a state of emergency.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper accused the band of mismanaging finances and Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence staged a six-week hunger protest over living conditions on reserves and treaty issues.

Her protest sparked nationwide demonstrations of support.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.