Flood evacuees' temporary school remains closed
First Nation, federal government disagree on where classes should resume
Flooded-out students from the Lake St. Martin First Nation in Manitoba continue to miss classes this week, as different levels of government argue over where classes should resume.
The 68 students, who have been living temporarily in Winnipeg with their families since their reserve was flooded out in the spring of 2011, were attending Kindergarten to Grade 9 classes at the former Deer Lodge junior high school on Ness Avenue.
The City of Winnipeg shut down the building earlier this week, after inspectors issued a number of fire code and fire prevention bylaw violations.
First Nation leaders say the repairs have since been completed and the school should be up to code now. They want the children to stay in the St. James building.
But the federal Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Department is insisting that the students be relocated to other schools in Winnipeg.
"We gave them our recommendation, and this is the school we want," Chief Adrian Sinclair told CBC News on Thursday.
"It shouldn't even go beyond that."
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, a spokesman for the federal department said it's working with the Manitoba government to ensure the Lake St. Martin students and parents "have options that will provide a safe, secure, culturally appropriate school setting.
"We urge the chief to set aside politics and do what's right for the students in his community and work with us and the province to get the students back in school as quickly as possible," the statement added.
First Nation officials say the children have been shuffled around enough since they had to leave their home community about a year and a half ago.
Band member and flood evacuee Bernice McKenzie said the uncertainty over her two grandchildren's schooling is almost too much to handle.
"It seems like we're still stuck in the same situation here and we're not going nowhere. Now the school, and that's going to affect the kids," she said.