[Northern Ontario] First Nation chief stays behind as community flees forest fire – by Tanya Talaga (Toronto Star – July 24, 2011)
Tanya Talaga is a Queen’s Park reporter with the Toronto Star, which has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion.
THUNDER BAY, ONT.—A steady stream of 20 Hercules flights have evacuated 2,800 people from Sandy Lake First Nation but Chief Adam Fiddler refuses to leave.
A relentless forest fire has crept within 9 kilometres of Sandy Lake, a community more than 500 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay along the Manitoba border. “I have to stay,” the 38-year-old Oji-Cree chief told the Star from his band office.
“I have an obligation. A traditional role and a personal one, to keep everyone and the community safe,” said the married father of three. As of Saturday, there were 117 forest fires burning through 500,000 hectares across northern Ontario and 3,951 people have been evacuated.
Fiddler is using untraditional means to stay in touch with Sandy Lake residents, who have been moved to 11 different areas as far south as Ottawa and Kitchener. Each day he uploads a progress report on YouTube in both English and Oji-Cree. He’s even posted online helicopter surveys of the fire and videos of hungry dogs on the reserve being fed. Read the rest of this entry »
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