Attawapiskat gets housing help – by Barrie Mckenna (Globe and Mail – December 12, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Longer term, Mr. Angus wants Ottawa and the province to
start talking about sharing the economic benefits of the
development of nearby diamond mines and other resources.
That’s what Hydro-Québec did with the Cree on the Quebec
side of James Bay as it built massive hydroelectric

OTTAWA— Ottawa responded to the Attawapiskat Cree’s plea for more housing by promising Sunday to ship the impoverished community an additional seven modular homes, bringing the total to 22.

However, amid efforts to ease the housing crisis, community leaders continue to clash with the Harper government over its decision to take over the band’s finances earlier this month.

Ottawa has blamed the community’s problems on financial mismanagement of roughly $90-million in federal funds spent in Attawapiskat in the past five years.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan insisted Sunday the community has now agreed to co-operate with a federally appointed third-party financial manager – a claim band Chief Theresa Spence vehemently denied.

“She’s agreed to working with the third-party manager, and that’s all we need,” Mr. Duncan told CTV’s Question Period. “We just need collaboration. It just makes things go that much more quickly.”

The Harper government has “an admirable track record” of dealing with problems in Attawapiskat and other communities, he added.

The government also said it will deliver seven additional trailer homes and get started on a $500,000 renovation of a community building to house residents in the remote 5,000-resident James Bay village, where hundreds of people are living in wooden-framed tents, moldy homes and other cramped quarters, often without toilets or running water, as winter sets in.

Ms. Spence, however, said the third-party manager still isn’t welcome in Attawapiskat.

She added that the community appreciates Ottawa’s help, but she wondered where Mr. Duncan’s helping hand was in late October, when she declared a state of emergency.

“I’m not trying to create conflict here,” Ms. Spence said in a telephone interview. “We’re supposed to be focusing on emergency measures, and I’m glad [Mr. Duncan is] doing that right now. But he should have done that right after we declared an emergency, not after a month.”

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