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It is time to help Attawapiskat

From the Ontario NDP

After nearly a decade of stalling, the federal government has finally agreed to tear down a badly-contaminated abandoned grade school in Attawapiskat – without any plan to build a new school.
“Minister Strahl needs to understand that a wrecking ball will not erase his responsibility to build these children a school,” said New Democrat MP Charlie Angus (Timmins James Bay). “This community was poisoned by government negligence. These children have been left in substandard conditions for nearly a decade. The time has come to show good faith and work out a real plan to replace this contaminated site with a proper school.”
The school is situated on one of the largest diesel spills in Ontario history. Angus says fixing the toxic school yard is only part of the solution. He says that after a decade of stalling, the federal government must come up with a plan to build a proper and safe school for the children of this isolated fly-in reserve on the James Bay coast.
The old J.R. Nakogee school had been contaminated by a diesel spill in 1979 when the school was operated by the federal government. In 2000, the parents pulled their children out of the school as a result of the government’s refusal to take action in the face of growing reports that children and teachers were becoming sick from exposure to cancer-causing benzines.
“There is no school board in the country that would have to go through bureaucratic hoops for a decade only to be told, at the last minute, that any plans to build a school were now off the table. These children have been treated with shameful negligence,” said Angus.
The community of Attawapiskat has engaged in 8 years of negotiations to clean-up the site and replace the school. In the summer of 2007, government officials were finalizing plans to move ahead with the new school project. But then, the new Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl intervened and cancelled the school.
Angus says INAC says Strahl needs to restore good-faith negotiations.
“The children of Attawapiskat have become the visible face to the government’s failure to provide for the most basic education obligations. I urge Minister Strahl to do the right thing and to let Canadians know that he will ensure that these children are finally provided with the learning opportunities that every other kid in Canada takes for granted.”