Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/7/2011 (2110 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The situation with the Lake St. Martin First Nation is quite sad.
Not that the 600 or so residents of the band are the only people affected by flooding this year. Nor are they the only ones who have been forced from their homes with no idea when, if ever, they can go back.
But what is evident in the situation with this band, is the ongoing problem when there are too many governments involved.
When it comes to First Nations all too often the jurisdictional battles over who is responsible make for bad outcomes.
Manitoba is technically responsible for emergency management, but Ottawa has jurisdiction for First Nations. Earlier this month Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan said it was up to Manitoba to figure out where to move the 600 residents while a permanent solution is found for their flooded-out land. Ottawa would pay for it, but Manitoba had to find it.
Ottawa promised to pay for some flood-mitigation measures for the reserve for the future, but the immediate problem is where to house 600 people whose homes have mostly been destroyed.
In the meantime, 600 people are stuck in hotels in Winnipeg, kids missed months of school and fishers are missing their entire season on the lake.
But it seems finally, after weeks of back and forth between Ottawa and Manitoba, the parties are working together to find a solution.
Duncan's spokeswoman reiterated today they are taking this problem seriously.
"Our government is working with the province and we are at the table," she said. "This is an important issue and we continue to work with affected First Nations communities. We have improved the efficiency of our Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements and we will continue to work with stakeholders and partners."
A few weeks ago Manitoba Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson sounded bitter and frustrated when talking about his dealings with Ottawa on the matter. This week he was far less irritated and far more hopeful things were moving forward.
There were several meetings this week with the chief, the province and Aboriginal Affairs officials to discuss the option of moving residents to mobile homes on already serviced lots in Gypsumville.
It's not going to be an overnight solution and it will likely be awhile yet before the Lake St. Martin folks can leave hotels and set up temporary homes. But it seems progress is being made.