Current Problems


Shamattawa First Nation declares state of emergency

March 13, 2023

2nd Manitoba First Nation to declare a state of emergency in the past week

The fire, which destroyed a multi-unit building, burns on Shamattawa First Nation on Thursday morning.(Submitted by Jordna Hill)

CBC News: A First Nation in northern Manitoba, recently hit by a major fire that left several families without homes, has declared a state of emergency.

Shamattawa First Nation Chief Jordna Hill has called a news conference for 1:30 p.m. Monday in Winnipeg. He will be joined by members of his council and Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, a political advocacy organization that represents 26 First Nations in northern Manitoba. The news conference will be at the MKO offices on Ellice Avenue.

Eight families in Shamattawa, about 350 kilometres southeast of Churchill and 745 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, lost their homes last week when a fire razed a multi-unit building. Everyone got out of the building safely.

At the time, Hill said the First Nation has no equipment to fight such blazes. It has one fire truck, but it is waiting to be repaired and is unusable. The lack of equipment meant the only thing the community could do was let the fire burn itself out, Hill said.

The situation is urgent because the winter road season is coming to an end, leaving little time to get housing trailers into the community for the residents, Hill said. Shamattawa has no year-round road connection to larger centres.

Shamattawa is the second Manitoba First Nation to declare a state of emergency in the past week.

O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation, about 130 kilometres northwest of Thompson, announced their declaration on March 7 following the recent deaths of three people.

Chief Shirley Ducharme is calling for the federal and provincial governments to provide immediate help in the form of crisis supports for people battling trauma, addiction and mental health issues.