Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer
December 1, 2011 — The Canadian Red Cross is distributing emergency supplies to First Nations community Attawapiskat as temperatures plummet.
Cold weather has arrived in Attawapiskat, an isolated First Nations community in northern Ontario.
The area is only accessible by air for a large part of the year due to iced-over roadways, making winter a challenging time for the approximately 2,000 people who live in the region. Simple chores can be rendered impossible, due to a lack of supplies.
To make matters worse, residents cannot keep up with infrastructure repairs. An emergency housing crisis was declared in late November as the waiting list for new housing ballooned to five years. Many members of the community have taken to living in tents or makeshift shacks.
The current temperature in Attawapiskat is hovering around -20ºC, and it’s expected to dip even lower in the coming months.
On Tuesday, the Canadian Red Cross arrived in the community and began to distribute clothing, sleeping bags and heaters. More than 100 items have been handed out - and that's just the beginning.
Tanya Elliott, Director of Public Relations for the Canadian Red Cross, says that volunteers will continue to partner with community leaders. The Canadian Red Cross will eventually begin working from Timmins, where they will coordinate the delivery of additional supplies.
“Through our assessment, we've determined that residents are in most need of a number of items, including: heaters and generators, winter clothing, mattresses and bed frames,” says Elliott. “We are accepting donations that will support the immediate needs we've identified.”
People who wish to get involved can send funds to the Canadian Red Cross through: www.redcross.ca.