Flood evacuees protest alongside highway
Dozens of flood evacuees from Manitoba's Lake St. Martin have been lining the shoulders of Highway 6 this week, protesting the government's decision to scale back daily living allowances.
About 40 people have been camping near the highway, in an area between the communities of Grahamdale and Moosehorn, Man., since Sunday.
The protest crowd has typically grown to about 100 during the day as others join in.
A band councillor from the First Nation said people are upset the province is drastically scaling back the allowances next week by about 80 per cent.
The allowances have been given to the evacuees since they were forced from the reserve, located in the Interlake area about 280 kilometres north of Winnipeg, in May 2011.
Adult evacuees were eligible for a $23 per day payment for incidental costs and rent. Dependent children were eligible for payments of $18 per day.
Starting Oct. 1, the government will still pay rent or hotel bills for evacuees, but coverage for incidental expenses will drop to $4 for adults and $3.20 per day for children. To some families, it means a loss of hundreds of dollars per month.
The province has created a temporary village — a decommissioned military radar base — near Gypsumville off Highway 6 while arrangements continue to find a permanent location for the band members.
The old location of Lake St. Martin has been deemed inhabitable due to the extreme flooding and future risks.
But only a handful of band members have moved into the temporary housing near Gypsumville. Most are demanding land near the protest area for a new community.
"We asked our creator, our maker, our God for things to turn around, for all the negativity to turn around. We hope to get this land so people can get a home," said Florence Wood, a Lake St. Martin elder.
Flood evacuees from the Lake St. Martin and Little Saskatchewan First Nations took part in a protest outside the Manitoba legislature on Wednesday afternoon.