By Kate Adams

Native leaders locally and regionally were taken aback this week with North Bay City Council’s stand on helping flooded out residents of Kasechewan.

During Monday night’s council meeting officials said they sympathize with the difficulties the First Nation communities along the James Bay Coast were facing, but said the city could not help out the evacuees. Deputy Mayor Peter Chirico said the city doesn’t have the facilities or staff and that it is unfair to place this burden on the municipalities year after year. Instead of taking in displaced evacuees council passed a motion urging the federal and provincial government to find a permanent solution to this ongoing crisis. This move left many people puzzled including Grand Chief John Beaucage.

“People within the city really have to take a look within themselves, where do we start and where do we stop helping our fellow man in terms of when they are in need. And we’ve seen other municipalities throughout Ontario, much smaller municipalities in North Bay, that have taken in a number of people and they’ve just taken it upon themselves … no matter their size … that they were able to take in some people … and North Bay’s a pretty big city”

“We do a lot of business with northern communities here, it’s a transportation hub and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t have taken some people in her within the city … people in need,” states Beaucage.

“I think there’s an opportunity to speak to our city leaders certainly, and I’ve had a number of discussions with the mayor, not necessarily about this but on other things, and I think maybe it’s time that perhaps I talked about this particular issue.”