(OPINION) – Good Afternoon there Thunder Bay,


Recently in the news across Canada, the housing crisis in Cat Lake First Nations has been brought to light. Folks from coast to coast are seeing the images of children afflicted by black mould and I’ll be honest even for a dead soul like me they’re pretty hard to see.

I’ve just got a few opinions to pull from my backside on this whole situation so hear me out. I understand when it comes to racial things in Thunder Bay everyones as touchy as a Vatican camping trip.

While I sympathize wholly with what’s going on when the media is coming around and you’re asking the nation to get aboard would it not be a good idea to at the very least make it appear you care about the home you’re in? The pictures in the media of homes filled with trash, childrens scribbling all over the walls and spiral nails being driven deep into drywall to hang posters do not invoke a sense of care. I’m told that the homes are not owned by the people living in them but let me tell you, if you give me a home I’m going to be damned sure I keep that thing up, it’s a blessing.

Now folks are telling me it’s hard to get cleaning supplies in Cat Lake, I do get that. Prices like $50 for a jug of bleach. Personally I couldn’t fathom such a thing however you do live in an area of abundant water and you’d be surprised what a little hot water and elbow grease can accomplish. Certain damages to these homes like fist-sized holes in the wall cannot be explained away by a lack of cleaning supplies.


Next point here is on the Federal Government and the placating they’re doing without action. I’ve been pretty vocal about my complete disbelief that the government bought a pipeline for $4.5 BILLION dollars that was going to be built and funded by private enterprise regardless of their involvement or not. That’s a hefty chunk of taxpayer dollars wasted for absolutely nothing at this point and nothing in the forseeable future. The things we could have accomplished for folks like those in Cat Lake are pretty nuts. Which leads me to my next point here, roads.

At what point do we stop investing in band-aid fixes here? Folks keep telling me we simply can’t build a road up yonder way because of the countryside, the muskeg but I’ve shown time and again we can and we already do, well the oilfield companies do. In locations far more remote through muskeg, swamp and seemingly impassible terrain the oilfield companies will build corduroy roads reinforced with geotextiles that allow them to run crude haulers, mining equipment, drilling rigs and all sorts of other light duty traffic through what people in the Northwestern Ontario region call “impassable”.

If the lack of a road is what keeps things so expensive in Cat Lake why don’t we stop throwing money away on things like buying pipelines that didn’t need to be bought, shipping oodles of cash overseas to fund gender studies in a country that Canadians have never heard of? Why not open roads with that money? We could put more men and women to work building these roads which would lead to more income taxes being paid, we could get men and women from these northern reserves out there working on them, teaching them how to run heavy equipment and getting them trained to work elsewhere if need be.

Hell, Cat Lake could open a pretty awesome general store, perhaps get locals into the outfitting game to act as hunting guides.

I don’t have all the answers here at all, on anything, ever. What I do know is both the folks of Cat Lake and the Federal Government both need to step their game up.

That’s just one idiots opinion though.


– Jake Kesey


10 Replies to “Jake Kesey’s Corner – Cat Lake Housing”

  1. For many of the remote First Nation communities open road access that connects them to cities is not something they want. It is a much more complex issue than simply building a road. For the government, I was at a lecture at LU where a Deputy Minister was the guest speaker, they were being asked about the road that is supposed to be built to access the Ring of Fire and connect those First Nations in the area. His pointed out that the Ministry must be accountable to all taxpayers since the promised $1 billion in funding for this comes from taxpayers money. He argued that plans to begin construction were delayed due to various technical reasons including the EA was not completed. Additionally, he stated that the Ministry does not have the support from the majority of voters to build a billion dollar road to nowhere. Maybe more stories about what is happening in these communities and some good discussion that is not racist in its intent will help to find solutions to some of these issues.

  2. You are bang on bud.

    You can build roads on muskeg.
    Hell, there’s an entire locL mine site, that supports Cat-777 trucks that’s built on muskeg.
    For those that don’t know, triple 7’s weigh around 30,000 lbs. empty.
    And that’s all they do, all day long is drive over roads built on muskeg.

    Te reason why the government won’t build roads to these places is because there is zero return on investment.
    It’s basically money thrown out the window to them.
    Does even a single person, really think anyone in the government gives a crap about these people’s lives?
    Not one of them do.
    And unless they are siting on a gold or diamond mine and willing to sign over the mineral rights, the chances that they will never get a road pushed out to them are zero.
    That’s the Government for you.

  3. Hey, Jake. You have a good head on your shoulders. I’ve been working throughout NW Ontario and have been to numerous First Nation reserves. We are remediators that get called in when things are too far gone. Most of the time, it is neglect by the ‘homeowners’ that I see prevelant in most communities. A leaky pipe is left for not days but months if not years. A shingling if a house could resolve most damages. A child that writes on the wall should be given a cloth and told to clean it. Sure is easy to slide the kitchen window open and dump the grease out. Animal feces within the household long enough will eventually decay to dust. This, apparently, is all okay when nobody gives a shit, unlike you. Take pride, my man, because you’re an exemption to the fact and there are so few of you. However, in the name of infrastructure, once you go there there’s no turning back. Once reserved become their own entity, government funding will become less and less. That means the reserves will be responsible for their own infrastructure. Again, there are too few of you. Anyway, I could go on for hours but just want to convey this much. As good as bleach is, it’s also a harmful chemical. Black mould is bad but not as bad as it is made out to be. We live in, around and consume numerous moulds. Most are not harmful. Black mould is prevelant for a reason…there is a reason why it’s happening and that is proper conditions for the ability of growth. Please direct people away from the bleach thing. Most cleaners today are environmentally safe for Mother Earth as well as the people using them. What is needed across the board here is not education as much as it is instruction from young to old. Follow instructions and things will work.

  4. Of course its neglect.They dont give a shit.Thats the problem.Zero morals,zero disipline.What do you expect? I wish someone would give me a home ……..

  5. They have been given enough money to take care of this problem.. I guess it is much easier to blame them to look at ones self .
    In 2014 the reserve at a huge amount in the coffers .
    Were did that go ?
    And what about the company that built the houses ?
    As far as I can see it there is a huge management problem here not finding.

  6. You choose to live there, you deal with your choice. I am not for the government squandering money in
    “Foreign gender studies” or whatever you said, but squandering it domestically is still a waste.

    I don’t need data to support that reserves are an antiquated way of life, and putting a road to a shit hole is as useless as an elevator in an outhouse. The main thing that will end up on those roads will be drugs and other illegal substances. If bleach is “$50” now, it’ll still be inflated, yet with millions spent on the road to drive it there. It’s not like the money to buy such items is coming out of the coffers of hard working individuals anyways.

    It’s our tax dollars that would spend the money to build the road, to sustain their way of life or to inevitably bring their asses to tbay when flooding or neglect forces them out the next time.

    1. There are several ignorant statements in your comment.
      Educate yourself about reserves. They did not have a choice in where their reserves were located. Reserve lands were chosen for them by the government of the time, often in the most remote, uninhabitable areas.
      The ‘antiquated way of life’ is necessary where they live. Not all reserves live this way and often it is by choice similar to many who want to ‘live off the grid’. They want to save their culture similar to the francophones but many of the youth do not. They want the same things your children want.
      You say they choose to stay but whine about them leaving and coming to the city. How do you think they feel when their teenagers have to come here to get educated? These are the youth that have succeeded and are full of hope. Until they arrive here and experience the racism.
      Housing supplies are not easy to get to repair the damage due to wear and tear and the climate. Many reserves that are located closer to major cities do not have these issues with their housing and many take pride in their homes. White people can be destructive to homes too, right here in the city.
      Are you actually blaming the people for the flooding that occurs on their reserve? Some reserves are located on a natural flood plain in areas chosen for them when treaties were first signed.
      Imagine living there all of your life with no access to the things you have now.
      Are there problems? Yes and ignorance is the biggest problem.

  7. In spite of what the Chiefs say, there is no excuse for this! If the housing crisis is as bad as they say it is, why aren’t they taking better care the homes they have? I have no sympathy for people who bitch & complain about all the problems they have but do nothing to mitigate the issue. Dig deeper taxpayers – its never going to end!

  8. Jake did you not hear Trudue said all contractors are horrible people so I dont know about them building roads into a remote community.

  9. When I look at Couchchiching First Nations which is a thriving community located beside Fort Frances, I can’t understand the situation in Cat Lake. Couchiching has a convenience store/ restaurant, 18 hole golf course, hockey arena, bingo hall, fire department, senior citizens residence, a new school under construction, daycare & administration building. At Christmas time several homes had Christmas Lights and one home even rivaling The Griswalds. I’m sure Cat Lake must receive funding that puts them on an equal footing with other reserves. But we must look at the big problem. These First Nations Communties are living off the grid. That means everything they need to survive costs an arm and a leg. Also, there is a high rate of suicide in these remote communities. I can understand why. The youth living there must see via satellite television how the rest of the world is living and there they are in a remote area watching a world that they can’t be part of. I know I will be criticized but maybe it’s time to relocate these communities to an area where there are roads, access to schools, hospitals, churches, shopping, entertainment, cultural events, youth activities, services for seniors and so on. Just thinking.

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