Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence
Credits: QMI Agency File
The temperature in Attawapiskat overnight -- yes, it's deja vu all over again -- was expected to be around zero, a reminder that winter comes early in the remoteness of James Bay.
But there is no happy Thanksgiving Day in that chilled air.
Almost on cue, Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence is again running to the media to blame Ottawa for the fact that her community's housing problems remain in a state of emergency.
Well, she would, wouldn't she?
Winter will soon be descending on Attawapiskat, and so the time is right to start singing the now-perennial blues.
What Chief Spence will not do, however, is recognize where the lack of leadership can truly be found, why her cursed community is still without adequate housing, and why 45 residents are still living in a construction trailer provided by the De Beers diamond mine.
And all she has to do is look in the mirror.
The fault lies with her, and the band council she heads.
With the agreement of the Harper government, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) approved a proposal almost a year ago to build 30 new duplexes in Attawapiskat with market-value rents.
All Spence had to do was submit the proper plans.
But she failed to deliver, even though she had promised these mandatory plans months and months ago.
Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan laid it all out last week.
"We've had many discussions with Attawapiskat First Nation over its housing issues," Duncan said. "They were informed in May that the CMHC proposal was not workable without delivery of a housing plan which we had been promised for many months." So, who's clearly not cooperating?
It was last October, right about now, that Spence first declared a state of emergency when families at Attawapiskat found themselves living in unheated tents and shacks.
After great hoopla in the Commons -- and much pre-election ink for the region's NDP MP Charlie Angus -- the Harper government sent 22 modular homes to the community.
Now it's suddenly all about those living in that trailer.
But what about those plans you promised, Chief Spence?
Perhaps they're in a drawer somewhere.
Look around, and then look in a mirror.