The tab for this year's record spring flooding in Manitoba has already cost federal taxpayers millions — and that will only go up.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada says the tab for hotels and expenses for flood evacuees already sits at $23 million.

About 2,100 people from eight Manitoba First Nations still haven't been able to return home because of flooding.


Alex Ryle, an elder advocate, stares out the window of a hotel in downtown Winnipeg. (CBC)

Half are from the Lake St. Martin First Nation near Lake Manitoba — a reserve Ottawa says will have to be moved permanently to higher ground.

Jeff Solmundson with Aboriginal Affairs says the evacuation costs are unprecedented, just like this year's flooding.

Manitoba's aboriginal affairs minister says the money could have been better spent putting people into temporary housing rather than in Winnipeg hotels.

"There's no reason for our people to be kicked around all over the place," said Alex Ryle, an elder advocate.

A total of more than 2,000 people from eight Manitoba First Nations are temporarily living in hotels and apartment units because of flooding in their home communities.

Elders feel unwelcome

Some First Nation elders from Lake St. Martin checked out of a downtown Winnipeg hotel earlier this week, saying they did not feel welcome there.

They said staff at the Place Louis Riel Hotel did not want them to gather in the hotel lobby.

Violet Ross, 74, told CBC News about one occasion when a hotel security guard asked why she doesn't stay in her room.

Ross and others have since relocated to another hotel.

Staff at the Place Louis Riel Hotel said they are working with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to clear up any misunderstandings.

Since flooding forced them from their home reserve, about 280 kilometres north of Winnipeg, they have been bounced around more than five hotels in the city.

With files from CBC News