Impassable winter roads create ‘dire’ situation for Ontario First Nations: NAN (Canadian Press – February 10, 2024)

Impassable winter roads are delaying vital shipments and threatening the safety of First Nations across northern Ontario, leaders warned as they pressed the provincial and federal government for support.

An unseasonably warm winter, intensified by human-caused climate change, has left many remote First Nations cut off from an essential road network built over frozen land, lakes and rivers. The situation has prompted recent state of emergency declarations by First Nations in Manitoba and Ontario, as well as repeated requests for support.

“It’s becoming more and more dire, and more challenging,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, an organization of First Nations across northern Ontario. “It just means that they would have no ability at all to transport anything and that everything would then have to be hauled up by plane.”

Leaders of Nishnawbe Aski Nation this week declared an emergency over conditions on winter roads, which they said remote communities typically depend on from January to March for essentials including fuel, food and construction materials. The move came after four northern Manitoba First Nations also declared a state of emergency over a failing road network in the region.

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