Manitoba

Little Grand Rapids evacuees to be flown back home starting Saturday

Residents of Little Grand Rapids First Nation will be flown back home in groups starting this Saturday after a wildfire caused them to evacuate for about a month, according to Councillor Clinton Keeper.

Hundreds forced to flee after fire threatened their community last month

Little Grand Rapids Coun. Clinton Keeper said hundreds of evacuees who fled the First Nation in May will be flown home, starting on Saturday. (Thomas Asselin/CBC)

Residents of Little Grand Rapids First Nation will be flown back home in groups starting this Saturday after a wildfire forced them to flee the community for about a month.

Coun. Clinton Keeper made the announcement at The Smoke has Cleared Benefit concert on Thursday, where musicians performed in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day.

"It's going to be about 300 [people] a day, on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Over a course of three days, they will be flown back to Little Grand Rapids."

Keeper said the Red Cross has placed an order to have meat packs available for residents when they return home as there is no meat up there because of all the fridges that were thrown out as a result of the fire.

Last month, 974 people were evacuated from the Little Grand Rapids First Nation and after a wildfire ripped through their community.

According to Keeper, water in the reserve is running, but there will still be a bottled water advisory for the time being.

He also said the damage to the homes is limited.

"We lost a few homes and a trailer. Some homes were damaged from the heat of the fire, but we are going to rebuild immediately," he said.

The Red Cross said a small group of residents returned to the community June 17 to prepare for everyone's return.

Residents will be flown to Little Grand Rapids Airport and then transported to their homes by a community boat.

The young and infirm will be the last to return to Little Grand Rapids to make sure everything is in place for their arrival, Red Cross officials said.

Little Grand Rapids fire evacuee Draven Scott was happy to hear he'll soon be returning home. (Thomas Asselin/CBC)

Draven Scott, attending the benefit concert at the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre of Winnipeg, said he is excited to be going back.

"I want to go fix up my house," he said. "I want to help out my people out there, too, fix up their houses."

Dalton Leveque is also happy to go back.

"I miss back home. Being in the outdoors out there is a good feeling," he said.

Keeper said he was also looking forward to be going home, but said he was thankful to the people of Winnipeg for giving the evacuees a temporary home for the past month.

"I feel overwhelmed, we all do, with all the support we've been getting, especially from the people of Winnipeg,"

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