Fort Severn chief fundraising to reconnect hydro in community member homes

Fort Severn First Nation Chief Roy Gray was at the NAN office in Thunder Bay Tuesday October 11, 2005 assisting community member's fundraising efforts to have her mother’s hydro reconnected.


Additional Notes concerning the realities of living in Ontario's most northern community ...

 Grocery List:

1. Eggs per dozen - $  4.05
2. Loaf of bread   - $  4.59
3. Fresh milk - 4 l @ $14.95
4. Sugar - 2kg @ $ 7.95
5. Tide Laundry - 3.2kg @ $23.59
6. Enfalac - 235ml @ $ 3.75
7. Diapers - 30 @ $ 24.95
                      52's @ $ 43.59
8. Pop - 1 can @ $   1.75
9. Rice - 1.4kg @ $ 11.98
10.   Gasoline is $ 1.60 when shipped by barge or winter road
        Gasoline is $ 2.75 when flown by air.

Due to the harsh environment with winter conditions reaching up to -50 degrees plus wind chills, the cost of harvesting wood is expensive as people have to go anywhere up to 25 miles.  The costs of one cord of wood is $ 330.00 and on average a house will burn 1 - 2.5 cords of woods per month depending on size and for people to pay for electrical bills which cannot be covered as shelter components have been used up is not possible. On average, monthly bills for hydro are $ 100 to $ 200.00 / month.

These are the problems that we have, another example is that people on CMHC homes have to pay rent of $ 385.00 /month for 3 bedroom unit and $ 425.00 for a four bedroom unit $ 485.00 for 5 bedroom unit. On top of this is the cost of heating fuel which on average is $ 300 per month of furnace fuel plus the cost of electricity is $ 150.00 as all C.M.H.C. units use furnaces for heat. The total shelter costs exceeds the maximum shelter allowed.

People have to contribute from there regular benefits should they not want to fall behind with there bills which puts them below the Social Safety Net.

Because of these issues, Fort Severn cannot implement programs such as  housing rental program or even to charge user fees for water and sewage services.

The maximum shelter allowances are:

Benefit Unit Size:       Max Shelter Allowance
1                                  325.00
2.                                 527.00
3.                                 571.00
4.                                 621.00
5.                                 669.00
6. Or More                  694.00  

People depend on hunting and traditional activities to supplement the incomes and they need to freeze what they harvest.

The prices used are based on last years costs of wood and heat and this year with the increasing cost of gasoline and fuel oils, the costs will go up significantly.

From NAN News Releases web site



THUNDER BAY, ON Wednesday October 12, 2005:

Fort Severn First Nation Chief Roy Gray was in Thunder Bay yesterday assisting one community member’s fundraising efforts to have her mother’s hydro reconnected.

“We’ve had 15 homes disconnected in the last month and as Chief, I’m supporting community efforts to find ways to settle these accounts and have the heat turned back on,” said Chief Gray during his visit to Thunder Bay where he sold crafts on behalf of the Fort Severn family at the Nishnawbe Aski Nation office.

Chief Gray is selling moccasins, mandelas, and other crafts to help raise funds to settle one family’s $8,000 hydro bill that has accumulated over approximately three years.

“The cost of living is so extremely high that far north,” said Gray of his community that rests on the coast of Hudson’s Bay at Ontario’s Northern tip. “The average hydro bill for Fort Severn is between $100 and $400 a month.”

The community fundraising comes one week after the federal government announced a $2 billion program to help with heating costs for “the most vulnerable in society”.

Chief Gray participated in discussions with Hydro One Remote this past summer in hopes to negotiate a payment deal for the many families who are now living without heat.

“Our people depend on their freezers to preserve caribou meat and other foods harvested on our traditional territory,” said Gray. “Being without power is a little ironic, considering much of the hydro power generated in Ontario is on the traditional territories of Northern First Nation communities.”

Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Victoria Avenue office in Thunder Bay will sell the remaining crafts on behalf of the Fort Severn community members.

Fort Severn is one of 49 First Nations part of Nishnawbe Aski Nation. It is the most northern community in Ontario.

For more information please contact:

Jenna Young
Communications Officer
Nishnawbe Aski Nation
(807) 625 4952
(807) 628 3953 mobile