Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

MANFF forces evacuees from hotels under cover of darkness

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The Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters forced evacuees from hotels in Gimli and Ashern after dark Wednesday but they’ll soon be back in their old rooms, if they aren’t already, the hotel owner vowed.

Mike Bruneau said he’s furious officials with MANFF hustled vulnerable evacuees out of their rooms without warning at both the Misty Lake Lodge in Gimli and a motor hotel he owns in Ashern.

About 65 evacuees, mostly from Little Saskatchewan First Nation and another 20 or so from Lake St. Martin, were subjected to the removals.

Most in Gimli refused to go, but two families, with about 10 people, were packed into trucks and taken to Winnipeg, he said. In Ashern, the people loaded into trucks were allowed to return to their rooms when local chiefs intervened.

Some 2,000 evaucees from Manitoba First Nations are still displaced since spring floods in 2011.

Bruneau says MANFF owes $2.3 million in unpaid bills and there are reports the agency in charge of co-ordinating evacuee services owes hotels in Winnipeg for months of bills.

This the first time MANFF has stepped in to remove people.

"They came in after management left for the day and they pulled people out, moved them out to hotels in Winnipeg," Bruneau said.

MANFF did not return calls today.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

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