About 350 Bearskin Lake First Nation residents are being evacuated to Sioux Lookout and Thunder Bay due to flooding caused by an ice jam near the remote reserve.

The first group — about 175 — were to arrive Wednesday in Sioux Lookout, according to a City of Thunder news release.

Due to an impassable road, the evacuees are being airlifted by a provincial helicopter from the reserve to Bearskin Lake’s airport. Another 180 refugees are to be put up in Thunder Bay over the next few days.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler asked the host communities “to welcome (the evacuees) with friendship and compassion.”

Bearskin Lake is home to about 500 Oji-Cree about 425 kilometres north of Sioux Lookout.

Bearskin Lake declared a state of emergency on Sunday due to the flooding. The ice jam is located on the Seven River downstream from the reserve.

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