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Chief of Neskantaga First Nation scales up evacuation amid tainted water crisis

Last Updated Oct 24, 2020 at 5:54 pm EST

The chief of a First Nation in a remote part of northwestern Ontario says he’s moving to a full evacuation after test results showed high levels of hydrocarbons in the water supply.

Chief Chris Moonias says in a social media post that he’s asking the provincial and federal governments to support the decision to clear out Neskantaga First Nation.

Roughly 230 people — most of whom were deemed vulnerable — were evacuated from the community earlier in the week after an “oily sheen” was discovered in the water reservoir, prompting officials to turn off the pipes.

They’re staying in Thunder Bay, Ont., roughly 430 kilometres from home.

Indigenous Services Canada has said it would foot the bill for the partial evacuation, but representatives for Minister Marc Miller did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday on the proposal to move more people out of the community.

Neskantaga has Canada’s longest-running boil water advisory, which has been in place for 25 years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press