OTTAWA, Oct. 12, 2019 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde and AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart call for all governments to immediately ensure First Nations and First Nations families are supported during the snowfall induced emergency in Manitoba.
"With roads blocked, wires down, and electricity shortages throughout Manitoba, there are families at risk of exposure to the harsh conditions that the province is experiencing. All governments should already be considering how they will aid First Nations in the efforts to take care of their people," said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. "Families already living on the edge or experiencing hardship are pushed to further extremes during emergencies. There are people that need support in the short term, but these numbers will grow as the emergency stretches on. Action now will be more likely to prevent tragedy in the near future."
AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart says that due to already lacking infrastructure, First Nations' are hard hit during natural disasters and gaps in services.
"Cold spells combined with electricity outages can be fatal for Elders and people in poor housing. Whether they are in the urban, rural or on-reserve environment, First Nations families can experience food shortages, transportation issues, and concerns accessing health care and support services. Simple life tasks can become extremely challenging during a state of emergency. Everyone should be looking to see if their neighbor needs help, right now. We should be checking on Elders and families with children. The provincial and federal governments must act before the situation gets worse," said AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart. "An early winter storm can be devastating for communities and families that need time to prepare for the winter. Supplies have to be brought in, but they are certainly not in the communities now. A lack of infrastructure and emergency services can lead to further tragedy during a crisis."
The AFN calls on Manitoba and Canada to move quickly to ensure First Nations are supported during the state of emergency. This includes not only the fallout from the snowstorm, but also the chance of flooding that may result from further weather changes. Six First Nations from the Interlake Tribal Reserves Council (IRTC) have declared states of emergencies due a snowstorm. O-Chi-Chak-Ko-sipi, Dakota Tipi are the latest communities to declare states of emergencies due to power outages and severe weather. It is expected Sandy Bay and Skownan will call for emergency aid soon. First Nations in flood zones, like Fisher River must begin emergency sandbagging to protect homes and infrastructure. Other First Nations have contacted Indigenous Services Canada for assistance due to the storm and power outages.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations