Shoal Lake 40 members are appealing to Ottawa for help. The ferry that connects their island community with the mainland has broken down. Chief Erwin Redsky says they're in a crisis.

"The barge ferry service is our only life link to the outside world, and that's no longer there. People are at risk, we have elders at risk. There's no health services coming out to my community that we depend on. Water deliveries, other services as well, we're in a crisis," he said.

Redsky says they have issued a state of emergency, after a routine inspection discovered a leak in the ferry's hull.

"It's been out of services since the ice went away. So, after routine inspection --we're required under the Transport Canada guidelines-- we inspect the hull every four to five years, and this last hull we pulled it up and when we did pull it up we noticed it was leaking. It's a thirty-year-old infrastructure. So, we had it tested and we're just waiting for that final report," he said.

Staff with the federal government say they're working with the community to help resolve their issues.