Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Nepinak asks Ottawa to offer more protection

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ASSEMBLY of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak has asked Ottawa for help to protect First Nations from flooding -- lots of help, now and in the long-term future.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, Nepinak told the recently promoted minister First Nations don't get the flood-protection help neighbouring municipalities enjoy.

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Peguis Chief Glenn Hudson knows all about that.

"I know of five families still out from the 2009 flood," Hudson said Tuesday night. "We're projecting at least 290 homes will be affected."

Peguis had 850 people displaced and 290 homes damaged by flooding and expects this spring's flood will be just as bad.

The 2011 flood affected 500 homes, the chief said. "A lot of homes that have been repaired could be flooded again," he said.

Peguis is already preparing sandbags, and residents are clearing snow away from 88 houses so tiger dams and other flood protection can be moved into place, but such measures remain inadequate, Hudson said.

"It's far short of what is truly needed," he said.

Hudson said 190 people are still out of their homes because of flooding since 2009. "Our community is in need of long-term flood mitigation" through permanent dikes, he said. "We need more equipment."

Nepinak told the minister: "In light of the updated spring-flooding outlook, please accept this letter as a plea for immediate and long-term flood mitigation initiatives in the Lake Winnipeg drainage basin.

"Year after year, First Nations communities in Manitoba face extensive consequences and damages from spring runoff and flooding. The municipalities, agricultural communities and farmers all have addressed flooding and mitigation on the lands adjacent to First Nations communities with no serious investment made by Canada to help protect the reserve lands here in Canada.

"This is particularly concerning when we consider that many of our First Nations communities across Manitoba are established on the lake shores and river banks of the major waterways," said the grand chief.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 27, 2013 A3

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