Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

March 25, 2009 15:00 ET

Government of Canada Prepared for Annual James Bay Area Flood Season

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 25, 2009) - Five James Bay area First Nations are ready for the upcoming 2009 flood season as a result of recent Government of Canada investments and initiatives underway in partnership with the First Nations, First Nations organizations and the Province of Ontario.

"Canada has made significant investments in infrastructure and worked with its partners to ensure these First Nation communities are prepared for the 2009 flood season," said the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians. "Our continuing investments in flood control infrastructure will also reduce the need for precautionary evacuations in future years."

The Albany and Kashechewan First Nations are located near the Albany River. Attawapiskat First Nation is situated near the Attawapiskat River, and Moose Cree and Weenusk First Nations are located on the Moose and Weenusk Rivers respectively. Together, the communities are home to approximately 5,900 residents. Ice on the rivers typically begins to break up by mid-April. As the ice breaks up, there is an increased risk of flooding.

Since April 2006, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has invested approximately $4.9 million in infrastructure and flood management/preparation in James Bay area communities, including:

- $3.5 million in dyke improvements and flood management at Kashechewan First Nation, with additional funding planned (amount subject to tender processes) for river bank erosion remediation at Kashechewan to be undertaken in 2009-2010;

- $530,000 for repairs and upgrades to the dyke at Albany First Nation; and

- $850,000 ($375,000 core funding and $475,000 enhanced funding) to assist the five James Bay First Nations with flood watch/emergency preparedness activities.

To ensure a coordinated response to First Nation emergencies in Ontario, INAC works with a number of partners including: Health Canada, Public Safety Canada, Emergency Management Ontario (EMO), Ontario's ministries of Natural Resources, Health and Long-Term Care, and Community and Social Services, Political Treaty Organizations, the First Nations and their tribal councils.

Initiatives under way right now include:

- weekly teleconferences to share information (more frequent teleconferences occur as break-up approaches);

- monitoring of river break-ups and flood levels;

- establishing agreements with potential host communities for the 2009-2010 flood watch season, in case evacuations are required;

- working with Ontario First Nations to develop and test their community emergency plans; and

- presentation of a final service standards manual to Ontario municipalities and First Nations communities by March 31, 2009.

When required, the Government of Ontario leads emergency responses, through EMO. EMO provides emergency preparedness and response services to First Nations in Ontario according to the terms of the Ontario-INAC Emergency Assistance Agreement (1992). INAC reimburses the Province of Ontario and host communities for eligible expenses incurred in any evacuation.

This release is also available on the Internet at www.inac.gc.ca

Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
    Minister's Office
    Nina Chiarelli, Press Secretary
    819-997-0002
    or
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
    Media Relations
    819-953-1160