Lake St. Martin members split on interim village plan

Flood evacuees from the Lake St. Martin First Nation are divided on whether to accept the Manitoba government's proposal to build a temporary village for them.
Flooded First Nation remains in disagreement with Manitoba government over plans for a temporary village. 2:00

Flood evacuees from the Lake St. Martin First Nation are divided on whether to accept the Manitoba government's proposal to build a temporary village for them.

Hundreds of First Nation members have been living in Winnipeg hotel rooms for the past seven months, after their reserve — about 280 kilometres north of the city — was severely damaged by flooding this past spring.

However, the provincial government's $40-million plan to build a temporary village, consisting of 157 mobile homes on an old radar base near Highway 6, is being met with opposition from some band members, including Chief Adrian Sinclair.

Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson explained details of the proposed temporary village at a feast in Winnipeg on Monday night, but the meeting turned sour as some band members heckled the minister.

The First Nation's leadership had supported the temporary village proposal until the province decided not to use a band-owned business to set up the mobile homes.

At that point, Sinclair slammed the plan and urged his members to reject it as well.

During Monday night's meeting, Robinson asked for a show of hands to see who supported the temporary village. Most of the members who attended did not raise their hands for or against the proposal.

"The silent majority is … supportive of the interim village," Robinson told CBC News at the legislature on Tuesday.

Outside the meeting, some First Nation members said they oppose the plan, but some said they want to move out of the city hotel rooms and regain some semblance of a normal life.

Sinclair would not comment on Tuesday, but First Nations officials told CBC News they may take the provincial government to court over the matter.