The Northern Development Councils (NDCs) invite you to participate in a dialogue on Growing and Strengthening Northern Business on Thursday April 12th at the Forest Inn. The dialogue session will take place from 11:30 am until 1:00 pm. Lunch will be served. Deadline for registering for this session is noon today (Tuesday, April 10).
The Northern Development Councils have developed 17 strategies to review and provide comment on.
The strategies were narrowed down from recommendations taken from over 100 studies and reports on Northern Ontario. Some of the strategies look at improvements to community infrastructure, transportation systems, health care, improvements to existing resource sectors, new technology, research and education, and tax incentives, just to name a few.
Public input will be summarized by the Northern Development Councils and presented to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines for review and consideration in developing new programs to assist Northern Ontario … your input is invaluable! Your input will help the NDCs to prioritize the strategies and finalize recommendations to the Minister of Northern Development Mines.
If you are unable to attend a public consultation session in your area, please complete our online survey at the following web site to ensure your comments are included. The survey closes April 22, 2007.
Please distribute within your organization and to your contacts. All feedback is welcomed.
Contact Information ....
Northern Development Officer
Coordinator, Northwest -- Northern Development Council
Ministry of Northern Development & Mines
62 Queen Street, Box 147
Sioux Lookout, ON P8T 1A2
INAC press release ...
INAC announces more than $46 million in Infrastructure at Pikangikum First Nation
OTTAWA, April 10 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, today announced in a visit to the community more than $46 million to improve infrastructure at Pikangikum First Nation.
"Canada's New Government is pleased to invest in improving living conditions at Pikangikum First Nation. We are committed to assisting the First Nation in its efforts to become a healthier, and more sustainable community."
Canada's New Government through the Regional Major Capital Plan for Ontario of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), has identified close to $41 million over five years (2007-2008 through 2011-2012), to address infrastructure issues at Pikangikum. These include:
Prior to this five-year investment, INAC has also provided approximately $5.4 million in 2006-2007 to assist Pikangikum with improvements to community infrastructure, including:
Pikangikum First Nation is located approximately 90 kilometres north of Red Lake, Ontario, and approximately 80 kilometres east of the Ontario-Manitoba border It has close to 2,100 members with 2,000 on reserve. The community is accessible year-round by air, and by ice road during the coldest months of winter.
This release is also available at: www.inac.gc.ca.
/For further information: Bill Rodgers, Director of Communications, Office of the Honourable Jim Prentice, (819) 997-0002; Greg Coleman, A/Director Executive Services and Communications, INAC Ontario Region, (416)973-2281; Media Relations, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, (819) 953-1160/
Tories promise help for poorest native reserves
Tue Apr 10 - By Sue Bailey
OTTAWA (CP) - Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice says he will soon announce more plans to improve native housing as part of a focused effort to help Canada's poorest reserves.
The Conservatives nixed the former Liberal government's $5-billion Kelowna Accord, but Prentice said he will "get results" for aboriginal people where the Liberals failed.
"Certainly there is a need for housing, and there will be housing announcements in the days ahead."
Prentice spoke Tuesday during his first visit to Pikangikum, an Ontario reserve about 300 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg plagued by suicides where most residents lack indoor plumbing.
The Ojibwa community will receive $40 million over the next five years to connect it to the regional electrical grid, improve water and sewage services, and build up to 40 new houses and a new school.
Indian Affairs confirmed last December that just 43 of the reserve's 431 homes have running water or indoor toilets. About half the houses are literally falling apart and are overcrowded by a youthful and growing population of 2,200.
Many residents haul water in jugs from a water treatment plant or simply boil lake water to make it safe. In a scathing report last fall, a regional medical officer of health warned of a potentially disastrous outbreak of related disease.
Work to hook up houses to the water treatment plant was stalled in 2001 when the then-Liberal government took control of band finances, even though they were in order, citing the reserve's failure to deal with a bleak range of social problems.
A Federal Court judge later ruled in the band's favour.
Residents were told not to hang Christmas lights last year because an overworked diesel generator - Pikangikum's main power source - couldn't take the extra energy drain.
The reserve has long been a symbol of native poverty and despair, where suicide rates are among the world's highest.
Extending basic electricity to the community is top priority, Prentice said.
"That has actually been the critical impediment that has held this community back. They can't get on with the other things that need to be done because there's no electricity.
"We're going to start with that, get it done, then over the course of the next five years we've budgeted to improve the housing stock, build the school and do all the water and sewer connections. That's how we're going to approach these kinds of communities."
The spending announced Tuesday is not newly budgeted cash, but has been prioritized for Pikangikum based on urgent needs outlined by band leaders, Prentice said.
He has asked for a report from Indian Affairs on what happened to $7 million spent by the Liberals in a failed attempt to hook the reserve up to the power grid starting in 2000.
Furious chiefs attacked the Conservative budget for its limited new spending to lift native living standards, calling it the "stone soup budget."
But Prentice reiterated Tuesday that Ottawa's outlay for native programs is a "significant" amount that will top $10 billion this year.
"And in places such as Pikangikum where there are priority needs, we are moving to address them."
Amid graffiti-scrawled buildings and obvious hardship, Prentice said he was graciously received during a one-day trip to the reserve.
"There's an enormous amount of pride in the community."
Feds to spend $40M for electricity, new school on troubled Pikangikum reserve
Sue Bailey, Canadian Press - April 09, 2007
OTTAWA (CP) - It may be more than three months late, but Christmas is coming to the troubled Pikangikum reserve.
The northern Ontario First Nation where residents were told not to hang Yuletide lights last year due to power shortages is to receive just over $40 million in new federal funds.
Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice will confirm the cash injection Tuesday, said a government official who asked not to be identified. It's to be announced as Prentice makes his first, day-long visit to the remote reserve about 300 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.
The money is to help connect houses to the regional electricity grid, improve water and sewage services, build a new school and up to 40 new homes.
Pikangikum has made global headlines for one of the world's highest suicide rates. Its rotting sprawl of run-down, graffiti-covered houses is a stark reminder that Third World poverty is a reality in Canada's most neglected native enclaves.
Many Pikangikum residents have no running water and rely on outhouses that freeze and overflow in winter. They draw electricity from an overworked diesel generator. About 700 children in the community of 2,200 are overcrowded into a school designed for 350. Organized recreation for a growing population of restless teenagers is badly needed.
They live in conditions that most Canadians can only imagine.
One of the most recent reports to leave the federal government red-faced was delivered last fall by a regional medical officer of health based in Kenora, Ont.
Dr. Pete Sarsfield raised alarms about water-related illness, skin diseases, ear infections and lice. He said the slow pace of federal action would never be accepted elsewhere.
"The conditions in Pikangikum would not be tolerated in our suburbs or rural areas," he told The Canadian Press last December. "It simply would not be allowed."
Angus Toulouse, Ontario vice-chief for the national Assembly of First Nations, said any new spending in the community is "tremendously needed" and long overdue.
Work to connect homes to the water treatment plant has been stalled since 2001, he noted. That's when the former Liberal government took over the band's finances - even though the books were in order - citing the band's failure to tackle an array of social problems, including domestic violence and a suicide rate that eclipsed the Canadian average.
"Just coming into the community, you can see the despair," he said in an interview.
"It's disgusting that in this day and age, that's the standard living condition in many of our impoverished communities - especially in the remote North. Out of sight, out of mind.
"I can only continue to express a real need for the government to take a global look at the needs that are there, and not individually zero in on one community."
Toulouse is cautiously optimistic that the $40 million may help take the edge off some of Pikangikum's most pressing infrastructure needs. But he said it won't be enough to keep pace with long neglected repairs, maintenance and the burgeoning demands of a growing population.