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Fort Severn

Fort Severn First Nation leadership express concerns about Group of 10 territorial claims

Submitter Name: 
George Kakekaspan
Submitters Email:

The original large PDF files can be downloaded by clicking on the links at the bottom of this page.


Fort Severn First Nation looking for candidate to fill Band Manager position


The Fort Severn First Nations is located in northern Ontario, near Hudson’s Bay. The First Nation administers a number of programs and services, including several business ventures. The community is a remote “fly-in” community.

The First Nation Manager position requires strong management and supervisory experience, good interpersonal and communications skills, knowledge of the culture and traditions of First Nations and knowledge of government funding processes.

The position will provide leadership and management oversight to the all community programs, projects and personnel of the Fort Severn First Nation. This is a high profile position requires skills in program monitoring, coordination and providing technical assistance to the Chief and Council, program development, strategic planning, identifying budget requirements, recruitment and performance appraisal of professional and support staff, and  capacity building.

Qualifications & Experience:

  • Post secondary education in business administration or management related program.
  • A minimum of five years experience in the management of a First Nation.
  • Knowledge of government and financial policies as related to First Nation business activities.
  • Proven ability to delegate work and supervise subordinates
  • Thorough knowledge and understanding accountability requirements
  • Excellent interpersonal skills including people management, adaptability, and professional integrity.
  • Previous experience dealing with INAC ( CFNFA) and other government funding agreements.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills both oral and written.
  • Excellent analytical and administrative skills and experience managing projects and contracts and personnel.
  • Knowledge of accounting principles as related to financial management.
  • Ability to speak Oji-Cree/Cree is a definite asset.
  • Must possess a sensitivity and awareness of aboriginal cultures.

A competitive compensation package based on qualifications is offered for this key management position. Salary range offered: $55,000-$70,000, depending on experience. Complete with group benefits plan, pension plan and travel assistance provided. Applications sent by either fax, mail or email accepted. 

Please forward your resume by May 30, 2007 along with three references to:

Mr. George Kakekaspan - Acting Band Manager
Fort Severn First Nation
Box 149
Fort Severn, Ontario
Fax: 807-478-1103

NOHFC Funds to help Fort Severn build new harbour and road


Ontario Government Improves Access Into Far North Community - December 14, 2005

Funds Will Help Fort Severn First Nation Build New Harbour And Road

SUDBURY – The Ontario government is helping Fort Severn First Nation on Hudson Bay improve transportation infrastructure essential for the community’s well-being and growth, Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci announced today.

“Our government is working with James Bay communities to help them achieve real progress on shared goals that will improve quality of life,” said Bartolucci. “It is vital that Far North communities maintain and improve transportation options.”
The Fort Severn First Nation is using a Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) investment of $590,320 to build a new harbour and seven-kilometre road to the community. The new facility replaces a deteriorating dock, and is being built in deeper water to better ensure safe navigation of the annual barge from Moosonee. Fort Severn, near the mouth of the Severn River on Hudson Bay, is Ontario’s northernmost community. It is accessible year-round only by air; however, the summer barge and a winter road provide less expensive ways to travel and ship fuel, building material, food and other goods and services.

“Many First Nation communities, including Fort Severn, are experiencing population growth,” said David Ramsay, Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs. “An important aspect of our government’s commitment to improving Aboriginal communities is to ensure they have the opportunities and the means to deliver efficient and cost-effective services to their families, children and youth.”
“Today’s announcement supports our government’s commitment to work with Ontario’s Aboriginal communities to build northern prosperity in a way that respects heritage and cultural values,” said Bartolucci, who also chairs the NOHFC. “We recognize that infrastructure development is key to supporting the northern economy.”

This NOHFC contribution is part of the government’s Northern Prosperity Plan for building stronger northern communities. The Northern Prosperity Plan has four pillars: Strengthening the North and its Communities; Listening to and Serving Northerners Better; Competing Globally; and Providing Opportunities for All.



Laura Blondeau
Minister’s Office – Sudbury
(705) 564-7454

Michel Lavoie
MNDM/NOHFC – Sudbury
(705) 564-7125

Fort Severn "school" continues to operate in temporary band buildings

There are INAC announcements of new schools and crisis management but the students in Fort Severn continue to work out of temporary spaces being provided by the band. Temporary portable classroom units are now being shipped and constructed in the hope of having them ready for January 2006 while the band and INAC continue to meet about getting a new school built ....

Toronto Star - Nov. 5, 2005. 08:47 AM

      School's out too often on native reserves Kashechewan pupils latest to lose classes - Mould, bad water common in North


      On the northern edge of Ontario where the treeline meets Hudson Bay, the entire Grade 8 class of Fort Severn is repeating the year after a mould infestation shut down their school last year.

      Junior high is now taught in the restaurant.

      Down the coast of James Bay in Attawapiskat, an oil spill closed the school building five years ago. The 600 children are so weary of being scattered across 19 portables, with no fire alarms and 50 per cent more students than they were built to hold, that 30 families have moved away to cities so their children can attend proper schools.

      Up here above the 50th parallel - where schools often shut down for weeks, even years, at a time because of mould under the floorboards, dirty water in the taps, contaminated soil and hazards rarely seen, let alone tolerated, in schools elsewhere in Canada - the students of Kashechewan are just the latest victims of educational upheaval.

      At Muskrat Dam First Nation about 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, there has been no running water this week because of a filtration breakdown. All 56 students have had their school day shortened by nearly two hours to reduce the disruption of having to use outside port-a-potties. "The children are getting stressed out," says education director Roy Fiddler. "I don't know how much longer we can keep the school open without water."

      At nearby North Caribou Lake First Nation, all 140 students missed three weeks of school this fall while mould was removed from under the floors.

      And the displaced children of Kashechewan, who have been out of school for three weeks in a tainted water crisis that has seized the national spotlight, will face an uphill battle catching up, warns Grand Chief Stan Beardy of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), which represents 49 northern reserves, including Kashechewan.

      "When you're already behind, as our children are, it doesn't take many missed days of school to get completely lost. I'm worried some of our children might miss their school year," he said. 

      And with many native children already lagging three years behind in school, educators say school closings are the last thing these children need.

      "Our schools are in a crisis situation with health and safety, there's such a serious problem with mould, building structure, water quality and crowding," says former teacher Goyce Kakegamic, NAN's deputy chief of education.

      In Kashechewan, more than 700 people were airlifted last week to Sudbury, Cochrane, Timmins, Ottawa and Sault Ste Marie after the Cree reserve declared a state of emergency Oct. 14 after E. coli bacteria was found in its water.

      Some of the children hope to resume classes Monday in Cochrane, using an empty school donated by the local Catholic school board. But plans remain unclear for the other students.

      One Thunder Bay psychologist who has worked with northern children for 20 years found that by Grade 8, the average child on one remote Ontario reserve has missed the equivalent of almost two years of school because of school closings prompted by substandard conditions. Several northern educators say it is common for schools to be closed up to 30 days per year because of equipment breakdowns.

      "Even in the poorest neighbourhoods in Toronto, students don't have to deal with schools that routinely close down because there is no heat or clean water - and these factors absolutely have an impact on children's learning," said Mary-Beth Minthorn-Biggs.

      She measured Grade 8 pupils' reading levels in Fort Severn in June and found they had dropped by two grades since the school building closed in 2004.

      Why are northern schools in such disrepair?

      Many are old, the climate is harsh and the exploding birth rate among Canada's First Nations - twice the national average - leaves even new schools bursting at the seams, say educators.

      Too, an unlucky blend of conditions often leads to a "perfect storm" for mould that can cause respiratory problems and headaches, explains one engineer who tests northern schools for health hazards. Schools often are built on low-lying muskeg that floods heavily during spring thaw, causing humidity that gets trapped behind porous drywall and in damp crawl spaces beneath the floor, accelerated by poor air circulation and lack of maintenance.

      Often the community lacks the skills to maintain the school buildings and lacks the funds to fly in outside experts.

      Moreover, schools on reserves are federally funded at about half the level of provincially funded schools, leaving many scrambling to pay salaries with little left for upkeep, says Ontario NDP Leader Howard Hampton, whose northern riding of Rainy River includes about half Ontario's northern reserves.

      "There's an atrocious double standard in education funding on reserves that leads to Third World conditions in many schools," said Hampton.

      He cites Summer Beaver, a northern fly-in reserve that changed hands this summer from provincial to federal funding; its school budget was cut to about $1 million from $1.8 million.

      But Indian and Northern Affairs Canada official Katherine Knott says she is "absolutely concerned about the disruption to students in Kashechewan ... The sooner we get started delivering the program, the better."

      In the short run, First Nation communities in Ontario's north say their schools need emergency funding from Ottawa to remove mould, improve water and expand buildings that are crowded and run down. They also need more funding for teacher training, special education and parenting programs.

      But in the long run, government handouts are not the answer, says Grand Chief Stan Beardy.

      As long as many First Nation reserves remain virtual welfare ghettoes - ranked by the United Nations at 63rd for quality of life on the international Human Development Index - native children will lag further behind.

      "We'll continue to be a burden to society as long as we're denied economic opportunity," said Beardy, who says private companies draw about $20 billion a year from NAN territory through mining and logging and tourism, yet First Nations receive less than 2 per cent back in transfer payments.

      He said Ottawa must enforce Section 35 of the Constitution and enable First Nations to share in the economic prosperity of the lands on which they live.

      "We're looking for economic participation," he said. "We're looking to share in resources, not more handouts."

      Meanwhile, Kashechewan father Gary Wesley has shipped his two sons to Timmins for school.

      Attawapiskat principal Vince Dumond braces for another winter of absenteeism from students getting sick walking between portables in wind and temperatures that plunge to -45C.

      Fort Severn father George Kakekaspan will continue to commute from Fort Severn, where he works as band manager, to Thunder Bay, where his wife now lives with their children.

"A lot of families up here have been torn apart because they move so their kids can go to school," he said. "We should be entitled to the same right as any other Canadians to have our children go to school in a safe, healthy environment."

Fort Severn chief fundraising to reconnect hydro in community member homes

Fort Severn First Nation Chief Roy Gray was at the NAN office in Thunder Bay Tuesday October 11, 2005 assisting community member's fundraising efforts to have her mother’s hydro reconnected.


Additional Notes concerning the realities of living in Ontario's most northern community ...

 Grocery List:

1. Eggs per dozen - $  4.05
2. Loaf of bread   - $  4.59
3. Fresh milk - 4 l @ $14.95
4. Sugar - 2kg @ $ 7.95
5. Tide Laundry - 3.2kg @ $23.59
6. Enfalac - 235ml @ $ 3.75
7. Diapers - 30 @ $ 24.95
                      52's @ $ 43.59
8. Pop - 1 can @ $   1.75
9. Rice - 1.4kg @ $ 11.98
10.   Gasoline is $ 1.60 when shipped by barge or winter road
        Gasoline is $ 2.75 when flown by air.

Due to the harsh environment with winter conditions reaching up to -50 degrees plus wind chills, the cost of harvesting wood is expensive as people have to go anywhere up to 25 miles.  The costs of one cord of wood is $ 330.00 and on average a house will burn 1 - 2.5 cords of woods per month depending on size and for people to pay for electrical bills which cannot be covered as shelter components have been used up is not possible. On average, monthly bills for hydro are $ 100 to $ 200.00 / month.

These are the problems that we have, another example is that people on CMHC homes have to pay rent of $ 385.00 /month for 3 bedroom unit and $ 425.00 for a four bedroom unit $ 485.00 for 5 bedroom unit. On top of this is the cost of heating fuel which on average is $ 300 per month of furnace fuel plus the cost of electricity is $ 150.00 as all C.M.H.C. units use furnaces for heat. The total shelter costs exceeds the maximum shelter allowed.

People have to contribute from there regular benefits should they not want to fall behind with there bills which puts them below the Social Safety Net.

Because of these issues, Fort Severn cannot implement programs such as  housing rental program or even to charge user fees for water and sewage services.

The maximum shelter allowances are:

Benefit Unit Size:       Max Shelter Allowance
1                                  325.00
2.                                 527.00
3.                                 571.00
4.                                 621.00
5.                                 669.00
6. Or More                  694.00  

People depend on hunting and traditional activities to supplement the incomes and they need to freeze what they harvest.

The prices used are based on last years costs of wood and heat and this year with the increasing cost of gasoline and fuel oils, the costs will go up significantly.

From NAN News Releases web site



THUNDER BAY, ON Wednesday October 12, 2005:

Fort Severn First Nation Chief Roy Gray was in Thunder Bay yesterday assisting one community member’s fundraising efforts to have her mother’s hydro reconnected.

“We’ve had 15 homes disconnected in the last month and as Chief, I’m supporting community efforts to find ways to settle these accounts and have the heat turned back on,” said Chief Gray during his visit to Thunder Bay where he sold crafts on behalf of the Fort Severn family at the Nishnawbe Aski Nation office.

Chief Gray is selling moccasins, mandelas, and other crafts to help raise funds to settle one family’s $8,000 hydro bill that has accumulated over approximately three years.

“The cost of living is so extremely high that far north,” said Gray of his community that rests on the coast of Hudson’s Bay at Ontario’s Northern tip. “The average hydro bill for Fort Severn is between $100 and $400 a month.”

The community fundraising comes one week after the federal government announced a $2 billion program to help with heating costs for “the most vulnerable in society”.

Chief Gray participated in discussions with Hydro One Remote this past summer in hopes to negotiate a payment deal for the many families who are now living without heat.

“Our people depend on their freezers to preserve caribou meat and other foods harvested on our traditional territory,” said Gray. “Being without power is a little ironic, considering much of the hydro power generated in Ontario is on the traditional territories of Northern First Nation communities.”

Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Victoria Avenue office in Thunder Bay will sell the remaining crafts on behalf of the Fort Severn community members.

Fort Severn is one of 49 First Nations part of Nishnawbe Aski Nation. It is the most northern community in Ontario.

For more information please contact:

Jenna Young
Communications Officer
Nishnawbe Aski Nation
(807) 625 4952
(807) 628 3953 mobile

Invitation to form a Fort Severn Broomball Team

To all Fort Severn lady band members,

If you are interested in joining a ladies' broomball team for the 2005-2006 season.

Please contact,

Marie Carson,
Valerie Kakekaspan,

Election results in Fort Severn for chief and council

Chief Roy Gray was re-elected for another term as Fort Severn's leader. Dennis Bluecoat takes on the role as Deputy Chief. New councillors include Connie Thomas, Kenny Thomas and Mike Bluecoat.

Congratulations to everyone who ran for election and best wishes and lots of successes to the Fort Severn Chief and Council for the upcoming term.

Fort Severn school building remains closed as another study required by INAC

The May 19 issue of Wawatay headlines "INAC insists on fourth study in effort to save mouldy school"

The reporter included an interview with the local MP, Roger Valley who clearly understands Fort Severn's concerns with the present school and its location with his comments in a side bar article about his visit to Fort Severn.

INAC insists on fourth study in effort to save mouldy school by Joyce Hunter

One study? Two studies? Maybe three studies will do. So far, Fort Severn has commissioned three studies in its bid to convince government bureaucrats one of its buildings is no longer safe to use. Wasaho School closed last spring because of mould contamination. Throughout the school year, Fort Severn’s leaders have continued to negotiate with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada for school facilities for its kindergarten to Grade 8 students. Despite the community’s attempts to get “code compliant” temporary school facilities as a short-term fix and a funding commitment from INAC for a permanent new school, INAC is moving ahead with plans to conduct another study. George Kakekaspan, Fort Severn’s band projects manager, said INAC rejected the community’s proposals in favor of seeking the completion of an independent study on whether the community’s mould-contaminated school could be salvaged. “Fort Severn First Nation has commissioned three previous studies (on the now closed school) which identified health and safety concerns,” says a band council resolution, which grudgingly supports INAC’s proposal to fund a fourth study on the building. The 79 students, meanwhile, were reassigned to a home school program for the 2004-2005 school year because there were no alternate safe buildings for them to be schooled in, Kakekaspan said. “The parents want a proper school for their children,” he said. Tony Purdori, communications officer for INAC, said the department is interested in the independent study because there were such a wide range in estimates previously provided by different firms on the closed school. “A consultant was hired by the community who recommended that the school could be remediated,” Purdori said. “The First Nation got a second estimate (condemning the school).” Because there was such a wide range in the estimates, Purdori said the department felt compelled to pursue an independent study. Kakekaspan, on the other hand, calls this pursuit “a waste of time.” He explained the studies varied so widely in estimates because one, done by a firm specializing in indoor environmental pollutants, spoke only to the mould affecting the school. Kakekaspan also said the other two studies took into account the structural integrity of the school in addition to the mould. Kakekaspan said both studies condemned the building when structural integrity and mould were both factored into the study. “The second study, done by a contracting firm rather than an engineering firm in January of 2004, did not examine the fact the septic field is gone, the floor is rotten making it prone to collapse, or that the heating, ventilation, and recovery systems need to be replaced,” he said, adding there is a long list of structural problems with the school, which makes it unsafe. Kakekaspan said the study’s cost estimate failed to include local resources such as local labour, equipment, and accommodations, along with the non-construction costs associated with any project. “In 1999-2000, MCW/AGE Power Consultants out of Winnipeg, which did the original study, basically condemned the building,“ Kakekaspan said. The study is not even being mentioned by INAC. “In May 2004, Cook Engineering did the third study and that report condemned the building also. This study was a very detailed study that would address all concerns and was not mould specific.” A contractor has been named to carry out the independent assessment. Kakekaspan said the contractor will arrive in Fort Severn June 14. At that time, the school will be re-opened for a thorough examination and a report filed when the study is complete. Once the study is complete, INAC will know if it can be remediated. The community has petitioned Indian Affairs saying all remediation efforts will “ultimately prove unsuccessful” because the present site, which is located on top of a natural spring, is “far too ideal for mould growth.” In addition, no consultant, contractor or government agency will provide a ‘No Health Risk’ stamp of approval after remediation, Chief Roy Gray said. “They couldn’t guarantee any work that they do,” he said. “Also, we’ve had parents tell us they won’t bring their children into that school even after it’s remediated.”

Wawatay News Vol.32 #10 (May 19, 2005)

Fort Severn school closure reaches the Ontario legislature during Question Period

On March 30, Howard Hampton asked the Ontario Minister of Education two questions in the Ontario Legislature about what the Ontario government is doing to help the children in Fort Severn obtain the education they are entitled to as citizens of this province.

Click here to read the hansard ... Here is the text of the two questions asked by Howard Hampton, Leader of the New Democratic Party and MP for the Kenora-Rainy River Riding.


Mr. Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Education. Fort Severn is the most northerly community in Ontario. The school in that First Nations community is closed for public health reasons. Toxic mould is found virtually everywhere in the school building. As a result, children and their families have been forced to move hundreds of kilometres to communities like Sioux Lookout or Thunder Bay just so their children can attend school and get an education. But many in the community can't afford to move to Thunder Bay or Sioux Lookout, so their children are now doing without.

These students are citizens of Ontario. They need access to education. You are the Minister of Education for Ontario. What will you do to help these students receive the education they deserve?

Hon. Gerard Kennedy (Minister of Education): I know the member opposite, and no member of this House, would want to politic with the future of those particular children, who are facing more than the average challenge of students in this province.

The member opposite is fully aware that there's a federal government responsibility and a dispute in that community. What I should say is that the education ministers of Canada recently had a meeting in Toronto and have decided to make aboriginal education, notwithstanding any level of government's ostensible and constitutional responsibility, part of their business; in fact, one of their three top priorities. There is work going on right now with my office and the offices of other education ministers to try to find a way that we can collaborate.

I want to assure the member opposite that we agree there is no excuse for any school-aged student in this province not to be getting a quality education. We will work, and we invite the member opposite to work with us, to find a resolution wherever that is taking place. But we have initiated that through the federal government, through our colleague ministers. We are looking into our responsibilities. It's certainly in our sights, and we will help find a solution for the situation he's describing.


Mr. Hampton: The minister should know that, yes, the federal government has primary responsibility here, but the federal government is dithering on the issue of building a new school. Meanwhile, these students have to follow the Ontario curriculum. They have to pass Ontario literacy tests and other standardized tests, just as children all across Ontario have to pass those tests. They are citizens of Ontario, just as someone who lives in Toronto or Ottawa or Thunder Bay is a citizen of Ontario.

I'm asking you to do two things: Will you get in touch with the federal ministers responsible and say to them, "It's not acceptable in Ontario that children go without an education just because they're aboriginal children"? And, in the interim, will you help those families who've had to move to Thunder Bay or Sioux Lookout in order that their children can receive an education? Will you do those two simple things, Minister?

Hon. Mr. Kennedy: Again, I think, at root, one of the most serious challenges we have in this country is the future of aboriginal children. The education system that should be giving them a boost forward -- and I think everyone is in agreement -- is not doing that to a sufficient degree.

I would say to the member opposite that when it comes to these particular kids, more is required than what you have offered. What you have offered, frankly, isn't about their specific needs. There's a problem to be solved. I ask the member opposite to lend his good offices to untangling the mess in that particular community, and I offer to do the same. They deserve a school in their home community, they deserve not to be dislocated and they deserve not to get ensnarled in machinations, whether it's the federal bureaucracy or provincial politicians. So I say to you, member opposite, that these kids need to have a direct involvement from the federal government. That is their responsibility. However, there is a need for third parties, wherever they can come from, to actually roll up their sleeves and help solve this problem.

We are providing additional resources to the communities where First Nations people are receiving an education, and we'll continue to do that.