Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Evacuees accuse MANFF of bullying

Claim of withholding milk for kids, pressuring them to leave Misty Lake Lodge

  • Print
Randy Anderson (top left) and his family spent the afternoon at the Manitoba Legislative Building Thursday hoping to 'get some answers about MANFF.'

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Randy Anderson (top left) and his family spent the afternoon at the Manitoba Legislative Building Thursday hoping to 'get some answers about MANFF.' Photo Store

Flood evacuees residing at Misty Lake Lodge say the Manitoba Association of Native Firefighters (MANFF) is withholding benefits from them while pressuring them to leave the Gimli hotel.

On Thursday, about two dozen residents trekked to the Manitoba Legislative Building to call attention to their plight.

They said MANFF has been bullying them by failing to supply diapers, milk and juice for kids and refusing to pay a customary allowance for incidental expenses.

At the same time, MANFF co-ordinators have been texting residents, pressuring them to transfer to another hotel.

"We came here to try to get some answers about MANFF," said Randy Anderson, who was evacuated from Little Saskatchewan First Nation and now lives at Misty Lake with his partner, Leanne, and their five children.

He's upset MANFF is withholding benefits to his family -- although he is grateful lodge owner Michael Bruneau has stepped in to provide the supplies.

The more than two-dozen flood evacuees staying at the lodge -- it once housed as many as 180 -- say they've been well-treated there and don't want to move.

Anderson worries his older children's education will suffer if the family is forced to relocate to a hotel in Winnipeg. The kids have been attending school in Gimli. "They're trying to take the schooling away from them as well," he said of MANFF.

MANFF is the organization contracted by Ottawa to co-ordinate services to flood evacuees in Manitoba. Until this week, the association owed millions of dollars to Bruneau for housing evacuees at the Gimli lodge and a second Bruneau-owned hotel in Ashern.

Bruneau has been at odds with MANFF over chronic non-payment of evacuee bills. He's also complained about the behaviour of MANFF co-ordinators, accusing them of drunkenness and of being rude and abusive to evacuees.

Liberal MLA Jon Gerrard, who met with Misty Lake residents Thursday, said the province needs to step up, along with the federal government, to ensure MANFF pays its bills and treats evacuees with respect.

The provincial government acts as an intermediary between Ottawa and MANFF, paying the association as it submits receipts for evacuee expenses and then in turn billing the federal government. On Monday, Bruneau received two cheques totalling $2.6 million, which means he won't have to close the Misty Lake Lodge Sept. 1 as he had threatened to do. But MANFF still remains behind in its accounts, he said.

Officials from MANFF have refused to comment on its dispute with Misty Lake Lodge.

Last month, the federal and provincial governments announced the Canadian Red Cross would replace MANFF in delivering evacuee assistance. However, the Red Cross's resources are stretched and the governments later said the Red Cross would conduct an assessment of evacuee needs for Ottawa.

Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson was not available for an interview, but an aide passed on a message from him that read in part: "Flood evacuees have the right to feel safe during this very difficult time away from their homes and communities. (Federal Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development) Minister (Bernard) Valcourt has assured me the federal government is working to secure a more capable agency to deliver federal emergency response services to First Nations."

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 26, 2013 A9

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Tree remover has special connection to Grandma Elm

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Geese fight as a male defends his nesting site at the duck pond at St Vital Park Thursday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 08- May 10, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A goose comes in for a landing Thursday morning through heavy fog on near Hyw 59 just north of Winnipeg - Day 17 Of Joe Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge - May 24, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on a report that shows violent crime is decreasing in Winnipeg?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google