Thursday, October 27, 2005

Kashechewan: Walkerton on James Bay

It's such a grey day. We are witnessing here in Ontario today, the evacuation of a northern town, reminiscent of the evacuation of New Orleans. Down south it was a foreseen hurricane that people were slow to respond to, leaving the poorest and those without transportation stuck in appalling conditions without food or water. Up north it is a foreseen water disaster, started in the 1950s with an arrogant decision by the Feds to locate the town on a flood plain (had Hurricane Hazel not happened yet, or was that lesson just for us non-treaty people?) compounded by a stupid decision to locate the water intake pipe near a sewage lagoon (again not something that engineers would even contemplate in a place like Toronto) culminating in poisoned water from 1998 on. Somehow they managed over the last 7 years, even with E.Coli. joining the effluent and having to up the chlorine to such an extent it caused skin burns, while their cries went unheard.

We criticized how the U.S. government's plans somehow missed transporting the poor in New Orleans in the face of a hurricane, but two levels of government ignored the lessons of Walkerton (somehow they don't apply to reserves because, what, they're not real people?) ignored their constitutional duty, and worst of all were inhumane toward their own citizens, just like FEMA to the poorest Americans. The media ignored it, for some reason, all these years, even during Walkerton when you'd think they'd be sniffing around for other towns with contaminated water. But it only takes one reporter to finally wake up and start doing his or her job, and the bandwagon gets going.

Over a thousand people are being evacuated to they're not sure where for not sure how long, similar to the New Orleans evacuees. If there's any justice, their town will be rebuilt OFF the flood plain, which will take quite awhile; in the meantime, they need a place to live with schools their kids can enroll in and jobs for themselves. Frank Stronach stepped in for hundreds of Americans. Individual Americans stepped in to help as best they could. Who will similarly step in here?

In the meantime, there are 100 communities across Canada facing similar appalling situations. The media are not reporting on who they are and what they face. So who will help them while provincial and federal governments continue to pass the buck? I'm overwhelmed by the greyness of this day.

Tags:

No comments: