SIOUX LOOKOUT — It’s callous that Doug Ford is still refusing to declare a state of emergency to deal with more than 100 fires that have been burning for weeks in Northwestern Ontario, and denying the people of the region the help and resources they need, said NDP MPPs Sol Mamakwa (Kiiwetinoong) and Judith Monteith-Farrell (Thunder Bay-Atikokan).
The fires have displaced thousands, are threatening communities and affecting the air quality of massive parts of the province. According to Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, 1,300 people are stuck in Pikangikum, waiting to evacuate, but they’ve been told there’s nowhere available to accommodate them. They’ve been subject to an evacuation order since July 8 — 20 days ago.
“For 20 days, wildfires have been raging around Pikangikum residents, and they’ve been breathing air dangerously thick with smoke,” said Mamakwa. “How could the provincial government abandon these 1,300 souls, like they don’t matter? Doug Ford should be moving heaven and earth to get those people airlifted to safety, and put the resources in place to give them a safe place, where they can access medical care and temporary supports.”
Fiddler also says others have been stuck in a school gymnasium without proper access to bathrooms and showers.
“We share in the frustration of First Nations people who have been waiting for weeks for help and resources from the Ford government,” said Monteith-Farrell. “Folks in the North, including First Nations residents and people who live in remote communities, deserve help and resources, just like southern Ontario residents would get. The trauma to families, the risk to lovingly-built communities, and the danger are a serious emergency, and Doug Ford should be treating it like one.”