Children and youth in the Garden Hill First Nation have not been in school for more than three weeks, since the roads have been in such bad shape that buses cannot drive on them.

First Nation officials say the spring thaw has eroded roads on the reserve. As a result, classes have been cancelled at the local school since April 19.


MKO Grand Chief David Harper says the Garden Hill First Nation needs federal money for roads every spring. (CBC)

This is the longest time the spring thaw has stopped classes, according to school authorities.

Grand Chief David Harper of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, an organization representing chiefs from many of the province's northern First Nations, says Garden Hill needs federal money for roads every spring.

""It's a big deal because the fact is kids are missing school, and at the same time [there's] safety. OK, which one do you pick, right? And, of course, everyone will pick safety," Harper told CBC News on Wednesday.

"The Department of Indian Affairs does not allow funding for infrastructure on communities every year," he added, referring to the federal department now known as Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

"There's a cycle that happens and if you're not selected … to get funding for that time of the year, you're out of luck."

The roads have been worked on in Garden Hill all week, but there is no timeline as to when classes at the school may resume.

A federal department spokesperson told CBC News that officials have been working with the Garden Hill First Nation "as well as other partners to ensure the students' safe return to school."

"Road repairs are underway and it is anticipated that schools will be open next week. Plans are in place for students to make up lost school days," the spokesperson said in an email.