Fort Severn

Fort Severn in crisis as children go without a school and INAC continues to study the situation

Fort Severn is presently 15th on INAC’s list to get a new school sometime within the next few years. The existing school was shut down in early June of this year due to severe mould contamination. In late August, INAC’s Regional Director met with Fort Severn leaders to recommend a "remediation strategy" as the solution to the existing school. The Chief and Council, using their own resources had determined that a temporary school facility would address everyone’s short and long term needs while the scheduled new school is planned and built. They require a decision from INAC immediately to be able to meet the scheduled barge delivery of construction materials for the temporary facility. The barge leaves Moosonee at end of September.

James Bartleman, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and NAN’s Grand Chief Stan Beardy witnessed the crisis first hand during a visit to the community last week. Later Mr. Bartleman, in the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal newspaper, stated "right now they’re in bad shape". Grand Chief Stan Beardy in a CBC radio program described the situation as "depressing".

Additional structural and historical problems with the existing school prevent it from becoming useable again for the community. The September 9 issue of Wawatay also documents these problems. A study commissioned by the Fort Severn leaders found that parents will no longer send their children to this site even if it was remediated. Historically, INAC officials decided to build the school at the present location even though local elders told them it was not suitable due to spring water and graves sites located there.

Now that their children’s health has been compromised by the existing building, parents are demanding a different facility for their children to attend. They require assurances that the health problems that they saw their children experiencing this past spring will not reoccur. Eleven families have already been forced to relocate to other centres so their children can attend school. INAC officials are aware of this information and these reports but everyone is still waiting for their support to address this crisis.

Fort Severn leaders took it upon themselves to include in their request for tenders for the temporary school facility that the buildings be able to be converted to teacher living quarters once the new school is completed. Existing teacherages are also contaminated with hydrocarbons and are aging due to the harsh weather conditions in Fort Severn resulting in the need to be replaced. The multiple usages for a properly designed and constructed temporary school facility will ensure that this investment will result in continued use after their primary function as a school is completed.

Fort Severn leaders received estimates from the engineering firm that the cost for remediation and structural upgrades of the existing school has been estimated to be $3 million and will require the existing school to remain closed for an undetermined length of time. For this amount, the Chief and Council presented plans in August for INAC to fund their temporary school that would be in place by January. At the same time a new school can begin to be planned and built for the children of Fort Severn.

Fort Severn elders and youth wilderness canoe adventure on-line

Cal Kenny, Keewaytinook Okimakanak's Graphic and Website Designer, is editting and posting a series of video clips obtained during the recent nine day youth/elder trip from Beaver Lake back to the community of Fort Severn. Click here to read the KNews story about this trip.

The video clips from this year's trip are being posted as they are completed. They include beautiful images from the land, teachings from the elders, harvesting wild game, cooking meals and social times with the youth. Click here to see these videos.

The "Wapusk Trail" winter road enters Guinness World Records

The Guinness World Records Ltd issued a Certificate stating:

The 'Wapusk Trail" road
(752 km (467 miles) in length)
constructed each year between
Gillam, Manitoba, and Peawanuk,
Ontario, Canada,
is thought to be the longest
seasonal winter road
in the world

signed by: Keeper of the Records, GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS LTD

Fort Severn receives Housing Innovation Recognition Award

At the First Nations Northern Housing Conference held at the Prince Arthur Hotel on February 17 to 19, 2004 in Thunder Bay, Fort Severn received the HOUSING INNOVATION RECOGNITION AWARD. The award recognizes the community's innovative efforts and strategies to contracting local building contractors to construct their new homes. Housing designs include various innovative construction packages to meet the unique environmental and financing challenges facing remote First Nations.

George Kakekaspan, Fort Severn's Project Manager and former chief, was on hand to lead a workshop providing other First Nations with details about their work in meeting local housing needs. He accepted the award on behalf of the community.

Click here to view the pictures.

Multi-media presentation about the traditional territory of Washaho Cree Nation

The multi-media presentation containing the stories, video clips and stories as told by the Fort Severn elders is now available on-line. The twelve day journey through their traditional territories along the Severn River captures the oral history and teachings from the elders as it is pasted on to their children and their children's children. Click here to view the presentations (be sure to click on the different points along the Severn River). 

Fort Severn team document traditional territories and activities on-line

Fifteen people spent twelve days travelling in their traditional territories, visiting and restoring old gravesites and the buildings at the former community of Rocksands. Several elders, youth and community leaders worked with two staff from Keewaytinook Okimakanak to record the stories and knowledge being shared during this trip.

Pictures from the trip are now being posted on-line. Click here to view the pictures that Cal Kenny, K-Net's Graphic Design Producer took in between filming as much of the trip as possible.

Watch for the video clips from this journey into the traditional lands of the people from Fort Severn First Nation. These are being edited and stored on-line for everyone to view.

Northern First Nations sign Land Declaration in Fort Severn

The three far northern Cree First Nations of Fort Severn, Shamattawa and Weenusk signed a joint declaration rejecting the boundaries outlined by the Group of 10 in its MOU. Fort Severn, Shamattawa and Weenusk are located in the far north of Ontario and Manitoba, along the coast of Hudson Bay.

Leaders, elders and youth from the three communities gathered this week in Fort Severn to review the Group of 10's M.O.U. and to formulate their strategy for dealing with what they saw as encroachment on their ancestral and traditional lands.

For more details about this meeting and photos log on to

Fort Severn Community Announcements

Everyday new community announcements are created and posted on the local community television station for everyone to see. The background music comes from the community radio station that plays Wawatay Radio whenever there are no local programs. Everyone in Fort Severn has this television turned on to listen to the radio and watch for new community announcements about someone's birthday, an upcoming meeting or workshop, job postings and everything else.

Now the Multi-Media Producer, Barney Turtle, is saving all these posters on-line in a photo album so other people from outside the community can also see what is happening in Fort Severn. Be sure to check out the Fort Severn Community Announcements photo album (go to the last poster in the album for the lastest announcement). A link to this album is also available directly from the Fort Severn First Nation web portal.

Fort Severn House Fire

Another house and the wawatay radio tower burns to the ground in Fort Severn.

I'm going to miss my Booshoo corner says, John Chapman.

For more details and photos go

Fort Severn Youth Planning to run in the Manitoba Marathon

Fort Severn First Nation
General Delivery
Fort Severn, Ontario
P0V 1W0

** Press Release **

May 20, 2003

It’s Official!! Nine intrepid youth from this small remote First Nation on the shores of Hudson Bay are off to challenge Canada and the world in a 21 km (13.1 m) Half Marathon. It will be the first chance for these young people to achieve their dream of competing in a national level competition, the Manitoba Marathon, on Sunday, June 15, 2003.

Rayanne Chapman (13), Hillary Gray (13), Nathan Howson (14), Stacey Howson (13), Bernadette Kabestra (13), Courtney Kakekaspan (12), Kary Kakepetum (13), Isabel Miles (15), and April Thomas (13) will be part of a large group of competitors (more than 2500 for the Half Marathon in 2002) in the 25th anniversary running of the event ( Several adults have worked with the youth since they began their regular training last fall, but the will to succeed is theirs alone.

There are many challenges facing youth growing up in a small remote community. In addition to the isolation, young people do not have the same educational and recreational opportunities enjoyed by other youth in Canada. Those opportunities can make a huge difference, in personal development terms, when it comes to the ability to set personal goals and live a satisfying and fulfilling life. And, young people need role models, and they need to be able to test themselves against others, both inside and outside their community. These nine youth are already role models to their peers and younger children in their community.

Fort Severn ( is inviting others to help support these youth and give them the opportunity to achieve their dreams. Donations to the Fort Severn Team will be recognized in Fort Severn through radio announcements and on community notices concerning the youth competing in Winnipeg. Donations may be made payable to and sent to: Fort Severn First Nation, General Delivery, Fort Severn, Ontario, P0V 1W0.

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For more information, contact Rowena House @ 807.478.2517

Check out the story published in Friday, May 23 issue of Thunder Bay's Chronicle-Journal