Attawapiskat 'traumatized' by fed decision

Liberal Leader Bob Rae arrives in Attawapiskat, Ontario on December 17, 2011. (REUTERS/Frank...

Liberal Leader Bob Rae arrives in Attawapiskat, Ontario on December 17, 2011. (REUTERS/Frank Gunn/Pool)

Laura Pedersen, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:32 PM ET

TORONTO - The Attawapiskat First Nation is "traumatized" by the government's decision to appoint a third-party manager to handle the band's affairs, a lawyer told Federal Court Tuesday.

"The community is more than offended by the appointment of the third-party manager, the community is traumatized," Katherine Hensel said Tuesday during legal proceedings where the band is fighting the appointment.

Attawapiskat, located about 1,000 km northwest of Toronto, declared a state of emergency in October 2011 when a housing crisis caused many residents to live in tents and wooden shelters with no heat or plumbing.

A third-party manager, Jacques Marion, was appointed by Ottawa at the end of November to address the living conditions of the 25 displaced families.

Marion was withdrawn from the position April 19 after the government decided that the needed progress had been made. However, the band of 2,000 is continuing with their legal action.

Crown lawyer Gary Penner argued Tuesday morning that since Marion has been withdrawn from Attawapiskat, the case is now "moot" and the court "ought not to intrude" on the policy determination made by the Government of Canada.

Justice Michael Phelan decided not to dismiss the case Tuesday afternoon as there "appeared to be significant legal issues" surrounding the judicial review.

The community is also looking for remarks from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to be refuted by the courts.

Harper suggested on Nov. 30 that the government stepped in due to "mismanagement" of the $90M that had been given to Attawapiskat since 2002. Hensel said that the statement from Harper presumes that there has been mismanagement or misuse of the money, a fact that she said was "unsupportable" by the government.

The band in turn alleges that they have been under-funded by the government.

"From Attawapiskat's perspective, (the $90M) is much less than the amount of funding received in Toronto," said Hensel.

The judicial review will continue Wednesday.


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