Support from across Canada continues to pour into Attawapiskat.
Leading up the holidays, communities from across Canada held donation drives and fundraisers to support Attawapiskat. Drives calling for needed clothing, supplies and Christmas gifts were organized by citizens in communities such as Timmins, Ottawa, Six Nations, Peterborough, Toronto, Thunder Bay and Winnipeg.
The Canadian Red Cross raised $300,000 in donations by Dec. 9, most of which went to purchasing the supplies directly for the community. Supplies included sleeping bags, heaters, generators and industrial laundry equipment, among other things.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees donated $5,000 and organized a drive to provide heaters and blankets.
The Baagwating Community Association, the charitable arm of the Great Blue Heron Charity Casino, donated $100,000 for the Ontario Volunteer Emergency Response Team (OVERT) to assist the community. OVERT arrived in Attawapiskat on Jan. 5 to provide equipment, supplies and assistance to the community.
Now in the new year, fundraising drives for Attawapiskat go on.
A benefit concert headlined by rock-blues musician Derek Miller is scheduled to take place Jan. 19 in Toronto.
Another fundraising drive to buy furniture for the modular homes is being coordinated by the EHL Homes (the builders of the modular homes), True North Aid and the office of Charlie Angus. This fundraiser has received a $5,000 donation from the Union of Taxation Employees in Ottawa.
To provide morale support, Aboriginal musician Tom Jackson performed in the community over the holidays.
Community resident and council member Jerry Nakogee is impressed with the amount of support the community has received from other Canadians.
“If I were the prime minister, I would be embarrassed,” he said.
The Canadian Red Cross is planning to bring new woodstoves to replace old ones used by a number of community members.
The Red Cross was the first outside organization to respond to the housing crisis, as it began to provide emergency relief in late-November.
While the volunteer organization says it has completed its main task or providing immediate short-term aid to ensure the safety and well-being of the 25 families living in shelters, it is co-ordinating the repairs needed to the healing lodge and plans on having a long-term presence in the community.
“We are in discussions with the community to create a permanent presence in Attawapiskat in the form of having a well-trained disaster response volunteer team in the community,” said Red Cross Media Manager Karen Snider in an email to Wawatay. “So while we will not have a role related to this current emergency once the shelter is up and running, we expect a long future partnership with Attawapiskat going forward.”
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