Chiefs say focus on flood victims, not fraud
Governments should focus on helping flood victims rather than accusing them of fraud, an angry group of Manitoba aboriginal leaders said Tuesday.
At a news conference at the South Beach Casino on the Brokenhead First Nation, Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said his group should be involved negotiations with the federal and provincial governments aimed at getting thousands of flooded-out aboriginal people back home.
The chiefs said 2,200 First Nations people remain homeless after the devastating 2011 floods across southern Manitoba.
Nepinak said the federal and provincial governments should stop focusing on allegedly fraudulent evacuee claims.
"Sit with us collectively to address this issue. That's what we're really looking for here," he said.
Some members of the Lake St. Martin First Nation who weren't even living on the reserve when it flooded, ended up receiving benefits from the government.
Federal officials audited flood claims from Lake St. Martin and found almost 200 band members were not eligible for benefits.
Flood claims from the Pinaymootang, Ebb and Flow, Little Saskatchewan and Dauphin River First Nations also face federal audits.
Chief Morris Swan-Shanacappo of the Southern Chiefs Organization said other governments need to examine their own activities.
"Don't come to our place, our house, and and accuse us of fraud when you haven't checked the provincial govermment and the federal government for their fraudulent activities as well," he said.