December 6, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
The Gimli hotel at the centre of a dispute with the agency that handles aboriginal flood evacuees evicted MANFF staff from the building Thursday.
Misty Lake Lodge announced Thursday they’d changed the locks on eight rooms and cleared out personal property belonging to flood co-ordinators hired by the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters.
Lodge owner Mike Bruneau said the decision was made after months of complaints to MANFF superiors and Aboriginal Affairs regional staff in Winnipeg about the co-ordinators’ behaviour at the hotel, including allegations of alcohol and drug use. The final straw was a loud party in one of the MANFF rooms Wednesday night, Bruneau said.
"Last night (lodge general manager Retha Dykes) had a roomful of people that she threw out, and she phoned me and I said, ‘That’s it,’" said Bruneau.
"All the locks are changed," he said, adding MANFF staff belongings were boxed up and put into storage.
Misty Lake informed MANFF executive director by email of the decision Thursday afternoon.
MANFF executive director Daren Mini did not respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.
Bruneau announced earlier this week that he will close Misty Lake Lodge Sept. 1 because he’s been unable to collect more than $3 million owed for housing the evacuees from the federal government through its agent, the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters. Aboriginal Affairs has vowed to intervene to ensure the hotel receives the money, but Bruneau is skeptical.
As of Wednesday, Misty Lake Lodge hosted a few dozen flood evacuees. At one time, as many as 180 lived at the hotel. The evacuees fled flooding on several Manitoba First Nations in the spring of 2011. The federal and provincial governments, along with the First Nations, are still working on a permanent resettlement plan for evacuees.