Skip to main content

Veteran Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan is pictured during an interview in his office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Dec. 6, 2017.

Fred Chartrand/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan faced calls on Wednesday from the federal NDP to visit the northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat First Nation so he can see the impacts of a state of emergency first-hand.

Earlier this month, Attawapiskat made the emergency declaration owing to concerns about chemical levels in tap water.

NDP MP Charlie Angus, who represents the federal riding encompassing the reserve, met with the community on Wednesday alongside his colleague Tracey Ramsey.

Story continues below advertisement

Members of the community are worried about being able to safety bathe their children, Mr. Angus said, adding that is “not acceptable.”

“I’m asking Minister O’Regan to actually come to the community, meet people, to see what it is like on the ground so he understands what the community is facing, and then he hopefully will understand the importance of stepping up and working with them,” he said.

A short-term and long-term plan is required to ensure there is adequate water and proper infrastructure in Attawapiskat so it can escape a “relentless cycle” of crises and uncertainty, Mr. Angus added.

The reserve drew national attention in 2012 for its housing crisis and more recently faced issues with youth suicide.

“People in Attawapiskat are really frustrated because they’ve had to fight for some of the most basic things that other people take for granted,” Mr. Angus said.

Former chief Theresa Spence, who launched a high-profile protest over the housing situation, has also started a hunger strike over water concerns.

Mr. O’Regan’s office said Wednesday that the government is aware of concerns and that addressing the water issue in full partnership with the First Nation is a top priority. A statement said that $1.5-million has been approved for immediate repairs to the reserve’s existing water-treatment plant, with work under way.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. O’Regan’s office noted that clean drinking water is available from a second system.

“We will continue to work with Attawapiskat and all First Nations communities to ensure they have access to safe, clean water,” the statement said.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

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

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter