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Reserve residents sue feds, MANFF over 2011 flood response

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Flooding on the Lake St. Martin First Nation in May 2011.

MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Enlarge Image

Flooding on the Lake St. Martin First Nation in May 2011.

Residents from four First Nation communities affected by the 2011 flood have initiated a $550-million class-action lawsuit against the federal government and Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters (MANFF) Inc.

The nine residents from the First Nation communities of Pinaymootang (Fairford), Little Saskatchewan, Lake St. Martin, and Dauphin River, are suing on behalf of all residents whose homes were flooded, who were forced to evacuate their homes and who were unable to work because of the spring 2011 flood.

In documents filed at Queen’s Bench, the residents allege that Ottawa failed to provide adequate accommodations, medical care, schooling, recreational facilities, clothing allowance and transportation, failed to properly supervise MANFF, and failed to act on complaints about MANFF.

MANFF is the non-profit agency which was designated by Ottawa to register and relocate the First Nation residents affected by the flooding.

The allegations against MANFF include failure to provide adequate housing, failure to safeguard and protect the homes and personal property on the reserve, and failure to properly spend the money provided by Ottawa to look after the needs of the evacuated residents.

The allegations have not been proven in court. Statements of defence have not been filed.

There has not been hearing on the application for the suit to be recognized as a class action.

The claim asks the court to award $500 million in general damages for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty; an additional $50 million for punitive and aggravated damages; and all legal costs.

The federal government hired an outside agency first in February to conduct a management review of MANFF spending and practices after reports surfaced that the agency had run up bills of $1 million in catering costs with a Winnipeg restaurant and owed two rural hotels more than $2.3 million.

The agency was later replaced as the group responsible for looking after the First Nation evacuees.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Monday, July 8, 2013 at 7:47 PM CDT: Corrects typo.

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