Attawapiskat First Nation

Friday, November 25, 2011 by Michelle

I wrote a letter to my local MP (yes, I do that sort of thing) about the state of emergency in the Attawapiskat First Nation. The tragedy is, I believe, a continuation of institutionalized racism and underlines the lack of government concern for the well-being of the aboriginal people of Canada. This has been going on for YEARS. I will be following up with the government officials noted below Libby Davies' response (note that links may be broken, but you can cut and paste). Please take a moment to do so as well.



Dear Michelle,

Thank you for contacting my office regarding the housing crisis in Attawapiskat First Nation. We have received many offers of help from average Canadians and this response of goodwill has been very inspiring. Unfortunately, since the state of emergency was declared in Attawapiskat, not a single federal or provincial official has visited the community.

On October 18th, 2011 the community of Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency because of the immediate health threat faced by families living in tents and makeshift sheds in the isolated, far north community. This crisis has been years in the making, as a result of chronic underfunding. There are major concerns about the adequacy of the water and sewage system. The housing backlog has reached crisis proportions.

Attawapiskat First Nation has been fighting for years for the most basic services other Canadians take for granted. The community has had no grade school for the past 12 years. Frustrated children in the community launched their own national fight to shame the government into building them a grade school. This fight is being taken by the children all the way to the United Nations. The story of this fight can be seen here:

The Federal government has promised to allocate $500,000 to remediate some abandoned houses in the community. However, this is little more than a band-aid solution as the abandoned houses are in serious state of advanced decay. At most, there may be three or four abandoned shacks that can be repaired with this money.

What is needed is a long-term commitment to ensuring adequate housing and infrastructure for this community.

To ensure his office is aware of your support for this issue, I am Cc'ing my colleague, Charlie Angus, on this message. If you have not yet seen the YouTube footage from Charlie's visit to the community on November 7th, here is the link:

The people of Attawapiskat desperately need your help. We are looking at a fundraising drive to help bring supplies. We will be back in touch as soon as we have plans in place.

In the meantime, we are pleading with people to contact your Members of Provincial and Federal Parliament asking them to support the people of Attawapiskat First Nation. To this end, I am including below contact information to help you with reaching the elected officials who should be concerned with this issue. Encourage others at your church, community groups, schools or in your workplace to do so as well.

Thanks again for writing on this important issue, and please stay in touch.




Office of the Prime Minister

House of Commons

Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6


Honourable John Duncan

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

House of Commons

Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6


Kathleen Wyne

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs

160 Bloor St East, 4th floor

Toronto, ON M7A 2E6


Premier Dalton McGuinty

Legislative Building

Queen's Park

Toronto, ON M7A 1A1



Tuesday, November 1, 2011 by Michelle

The fog hides them until you are close,

Skeletons shedding their rotting skins seem to pop out of nowhere

Surprising the world with their nakedness

Death all around them.

Planted transfixed in the ground

The only movement the breeze rushing past their bony arms

Waving and proclaiming their displeasure

Mute to the world except the wind.

"It's so cold! Why must we be naked again?"

The cruelty of it cuts them as deep as a faller's axe.

And they go to sleep standing where they are

Spellbound in their seeming death

On the other hand, I decide autumn is lovely

With the trees wistfully losing their colourful leaves.

The breeze creating a lovely tune in their branches,

As they stand there stark in their tree beauty.

Perspective is everything.


(Michelle Houle, Nov 2004)