Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A resident walks down the long hallway of a dorm-style trailer offering temporary shelter to those without homes in Attawapiskat, Ont., Tuesday November 29, 2011. About 70 residents of the remote Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario will be flown to Kapuskasing starting Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013. The band council declared an emergency this week in the James Bay coast community following a fire in a housing complex.

ADRIAN WYLD

A federal MP says a fire that forced about 70 residents from improvised housing in the remote Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario could have easily turned into a disaster.

Charlie Angus, the New Democrat MP for the area, says it's lucky no one was hurt or killed in the blaze that broke out in a set of inter-connected construction trailers used as a makeshift housing complex.

Forty of the evacuees were flown nearly 400 kilometres south to Kapuskasing by the Ontario government on Saturday afternoon, while the remaining 30 were due that night.

Story continues below advertisement

Angus says he spoke to Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence and band councillors on Saturday morning and was told the cause of the fire is believed to be candles used for lighting after storms knocked out electricity.

He says a total of roughly 90 people lived in the complex, which he says was badly damaged by smoke but not completely gutted by the fire.

"Fortunately nobody was hurt or killed because it would have been a real disaster if this happened when people were sleeping," said Angus, who has been an outspoken advocate for the community.

"That's always been our fear in those trailers – a night fire."

Angus said the De Beers construction trailers have been used as stopgap housing since the community's sewage infrastructure collapsed four years ago.

"Unfortunately that short-term fix has become permanent," he said.

"Cells in the provincial jails are bigger than where families are being put up."

Story continues below advertisement

The band council declared an emergency after the fire broke out this week.

Angus said he's been told the best-case scenario is that replacement housing could be set up within a month and a half.

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 Spence staged a six-week hunger protest over living conditions on reserves and treaty issues, sparking nationwide demonstrations.

Angus said Attapiskat is doing its best to overcome its troubled infrastructure but that more must be done by the federal and Ontario governments.

"Some people seem to think Attawapiskat is this big welfare trap. But there are so many things standing in the way of getting housing built."

Story continues below advertisement

"Nobody in Attawapiskat is expecting a quick turnaround time but there's a real desire for people to be able to put money down on houses, to be able to start paying rent, to get better places. We just don't have the housing stock to do it," he added.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies