QUEEN’S PARK – There is a housing crisis in Eabametoong — which forced 17 people to live in tents in -40 C temperatures, and resulted in one woman's death from health complications — and MPP Mamakwa (Kiiwetinoong) again called on Doug Ford for urgent action during question period on Monday.
Mamakwa released documentary-style video footage of first hand accounts from people in Eabametoong who describe what it’s like living outside in tents and make-shift shelters during the coldest months of winter.
“Premier, you cannot isolate from COVID-19 in tents,” said Mamakwa. “Eabametoong has so far been able to stop the spread of the virus in spite of their housing conditions but they need resources to stop COVID.
“When will Ontario stop playing jurisdictional ping-pong, and address the severe housing shortage in Eabametoong with a real plan to address the crisis?”
Eabametoong has one of Ontario’s longest boil water advisories, and it has a severe housing shortage. Multiple generations live in overcrowded homes without adequate heat or plumbing. Currently there are 17 people living in tents and shacks in winter weather.
Mamakwa told Ford about the tragic case of a local woman who died living in one of those tents.
“Philip Wapoose and his wife lived in one of the tents I have just told you about. She was in poor health and on dialysis while living in a tent with no proper heat, no running water, no kitchen, no bathroom or toilet," said Mamakwa. "She passed away this winter, in these conditions.
"Why is this acceptable for First Nations people? Ontario is a treaty party with Eabametoong. How is it possible to not have a proper place to live and die in? Where is the humanity?
"What will this government do to alleviate this housing crisis immediately?
In February, Mamakwa called on Doug Ford for emergency help saying, “Premier, you must do everything in your power to ensure that people do not freeze to death in Eabametoong this winter.” Doug Ford did not respond. Help did not arrive. Mamakwa calls this the result of Ford’s inaction.
Video footage of first-hand testimony of “forced houselessness” in Eabametoong during pandemic:
Video clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ClztvuiEJg
Direct Download: https://drive.google.com/file/d/16E-cvyXRf8FdFgZO1o_T9crHtpHLfw9y/view?usp=sharing
Irene Boyce, Eabametoong
“My health and my children’s health doesn’t matter.”
Weiben Slipperjack, Eabametoong
“Why in the richest country in the world, do we have to live in the third world?”
Andrew Missewace, Eabametoong
“I just need a place to call home.”
Councillor Hanna Waswa, Eabametoong
“Because we are so overcrowded, and the pressures are immense, people have started living in those tents permanently. We have a wait list of 93 homes in the community. We have 16 empty lots to build on. Once we’ve built on those lots, that’s it, that’s as far as we can build without additional investment in infrastructure. Eabametoong is not just in a housing crisis, but also an infrastructure crisis.”