Displaced First Nation in talks towards interim home

Flood evacuees from the Lake St. Martin First Nation in Manitoba may finally have a new place they can call home, as band officials are in talks towards establishing a temporary village.
Lake St. Martin First Nation says it's in talks towards converting radar base into interim village. 1:56

Flood evacuees from the Lake St. Martin First Nation in Manitoba may finally have a new place they can call home, as band officials are in talks towards establishing a temporary village.

Around 700 Lake St. Martin residents have been living in Winnipeg hotels since May, when they were evacuated from their reserve due to severe flooding.

Lake St. Martin Chief Adrian Sinclair said Thursday that he hopes to secure an agreement soon on setting up a temporary village at an old radar base near Gypsumville, Man. ((CBC))

Provincial officials have said the flooded reserve, located about 280 kilometres north of Winnipeg, is beyond reclamation. Band officials have since been in talks with the provincial and federal governments about establishing an interim village.

Lake St. Martin Chief Adrian Sinclair told CBC News on Thursday he has met with Manitoba Housing about having modular homes set up on an old radar base just off Highway 6 near Gypsumville, Man.

A spokesperson from Manitoba Housing confirmed that the two sides are in preliminary talks at this time.

Sinclair said he hopes an agreement will be put in place soon, so people can start moving into the new site by November.

Members want to move out of the cramped hotel rooms they have been staying in for months, and find land closer to their flooded reserve, he added.

Stressed out by city life

"They're kind of distraught [by] the city life, they're displaced and they're anxious to go back," Sinclair said.

Sinclair wrote a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper earlier this month, asking for access to Kapyong Barracks, an abandoned military site in Winnipeg.

But the federal Defence Department has said only two of the 59 unoccupied homes at Kapyong Barracks were fit for people to live in.

With no other option being proposed by Ottawa at this time, Sinclair said he jumped at the chance to work with Manitoba Housing.

Sinclair also confirmed that children from the First Nation will soon be hitting the books at a temporary school. They will be attending classes at 1970 Ness Ave. in about two weeks.

"We're three weeks behind from our children … going to school," he said. "It'll be another week and a half … to two weeks before we even get them into the classes."