Nishnawbe Aski Nation

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November 10, 2019

STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED AS BEARSKIN LAKE FIRST NATION THREATENED BY FLOODING

THUNDER BAY, ON (November 10, 2019 ): Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler has issued the following statement as Bearskin Lake First Nation Chief Rodney McKay has declared a State of Emergency as rapidly rising water threatens the remote community:

“Water is rising quickly from a severe ice jam and several roads are now submerged across the community. Community members are cut off from the airport and vital infrastructure including the water treatment plant has been compromised. Without immediate action the ice jam will keep building and the water will keep rising. We are in constant communication with the community and provincial and federal ministries and have requested that a coordinated response be mobilized to attempt to clear the ice jam and prepare for a possible evacuation.”

Water is backing up from an ice jam at the White Sand Rapids along the Severn River, just downstream from the community. Plans are being developed to blast the ice jam with explosives. A precautionary evacuation plan is also being developed that will use helicopters to transport isolated community members.

Bearskin Lake First Nation is a remote community on Michikan Lake located approximately 450 kilometres north of Sioux Lookout, accessible only by air and a seasonal winter road. The OjiCree community has a membership of approximately 1,000, with an on-reserve population of approximately 500.

For more information please contact: Michael Heintzman, Director of Communications – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (807) 625-4965 or (807) 621-2790 mobile or by email mheintzman@nan.on.ca

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