CFN – Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Grand Chief Mike Kanentakeron Mitchell will travel to the Attawapiskat First Nation on Tuesday, December 20, 2011, along with the Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo and Regional Chief Angus Toulouse. The Grand Chief’s trip follows an invitation from the National Chief’s Office to accompany Chiefs Atleo and Toulouse, as well as Aboriginal entertainer Susan Agulkark and motivational speaker Waneek Horn-Miller, on a personal visit and assessment of Attawapiskat.
The Grand Chief will also be traveling at the request of the Mohawk Council to gauge the alarming situation at Attawapiskat, which has been the focus of national media attention during the past weeks. The Grand Chief’s personal assessment will determine what items and/or expertise are urgently needed by the First Nation; such as technical and trade skills, multi-year planning and experience with community housing.
“Akwesasne can help with any of these specific areas,” stated Grand Chief Mitchell. He added, “We know that there is a massive drive underway across the country to send used clothing and other emergency items, but we need to look at what will bring long-term stability to the community.”
The primary purpose of trip is to see what First Nations communities can do to help other First Nations, as we learn that Attawapiskat is not an isolated situation. In addition to Attawapiskat, there are reports of more than 100 First Nations communities in northern Canada that are experiencing similar setbacks; with improper educational facilities, untreated sewage and insufficient drinking water, as well as substandard housing.
An increasing number of First Nations need help in developing housing and safety codes that will protect their families and communities. First Nations, such as Akwesasne, can assist in these areas by providing its firsthand knowledge and technical assistance. Some items that the MCA hopes to share is Akwesasne’s experience in overseeing water and wastewater treatment facilities, community housing developments, as well as the training of highly-skilled professionals like firefighters and police officers.
The Grand Chief stated that, “The MCA has received numerous calls from local and regional organizations associated with educational institutions and the business community, both in Cornwall and Akwesasne, that are interested in volunteering for fundraising efforts.” He added, “We appreciate their willingness and look forward to developing a plan where their help will be most effective.”
The trip to Attawapiskat is being sponsored by RIM, the company that produces the popular Blackberry product line.