First Nations

The Word from Attawapiskat — The April Melting Season

Attawapiskat looked like Venice


The ponding of April snowmelt poses a problem for children and pets. Barry Koostachin for The ONE.

by Barry Koostachin

The annual April spring melt, during this time of a year, it’s dangerous for kids and dogs to walk on the thin ice. Whether it be a ditch, a river or a lake. Some ditches are four feet deep.

And kids will play on the ice, regardless.

Around the second week of April, the excavators scooped out snow from the different locations the ditches, to prevent accumulation of water and easier to access the culverts.

They left some alone, due to power and telephone lines being so close. And the excavator operators didn’t want to snap any lines by accident. The melted snow flooded both my front yard and the walkway and forcing me to play hop scotch earlier in the morning just to get out of the yard.

For three days, my own moat held me hostage, thanks to the recent snow fall not too long ago. Water seeps and collect in the crawlspace, a common occurrence except for few houses.

I can’t go through the neighbour’s yard, blocked by their chained dog, he’s a good deterrent even though I tossed several treats to him a few months earlier. My dog Sped has a good sense not to go near the ditch and he’s not happy. He often tips over the water bowl and drops it close to the ditch. Slapping on my insulated rubber boots, made my feet sweaty that is before wading through half a foot of water, just get to the road. I always keep forgetting in buying a pair of rubber boots.

It’s not as bad as it was in 2016. An interesting year and a small lake in my yard. I took a wrong path, while on route to Attawapiskat Power Corporation. A thousand tiny feet scurried down my spine, having to trudge through the watery road, so I can make my Hydro AKA electrical bill payment.

And at that moment, I immediately thought, eat your heart out Venice, the small sections of Attawapiskat looked like Venice, Italy. With the payment done, one leg soaked and teeth chattering. Walking back home to my dog greeting me with his barking and the warm place.

And back to the present. Wednesday and the previous day, the boys from technical services are busy working in thawing ice from the culverts to allow drainage and they will continue working in other locations. It’s a thankless and an uncomfortable job. While heading across town to see my father, many houses are in the same predicament. But he’s currently in a prayer service with my older sister, so I went back home, On the way home, I snapped pictures with my phone.

Thursday morning, snow along with the howling wind made their appearance. Slippery stairs, snow and gravel road crunched under my feet. The good news now the moat along with other watery barriers finally drained, thanks to the dudes from Technical Services.

Would there be a flood?

It’s possible, considering winter refuses to leave. It’s possible, but Attawapiskat might also be flood-free.

Barry Koostachin is a writer and photographer who lives in Attawapiskat, Ontario. His column will appear exclusively in The ONE.

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