Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Band members protest INAC's handling of flood problems

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WINNIPEG - About 100 protesters gathered outside Winnipeg headquarters of Indian Affairs Friday morning in response to a call by chiefs of two First Nations whose members evacuated their homes due to spring flooding.

Roseau River Chief Terry Nelson and Peguis Chief Glenn Hudson called for the demonstration after learning yesterday that federal authorities would no longer be covering hotel expenses for Roseau band members who remained in Winnipeg.

Residents from Lake St. Martin and other First Nations took part in the demonstration along with representatives of provincial First Nations political organization and the national Assembly of First Nations.

Roseau was evacuated last weekend, from its location 100 kilometres south of Winnipeg, as a precaution after overland flooding threatened road access.

Then, on Wednesday, band members started hearing Indian and Northern Affairs would no longer pay for their hotel rooms, Nelson said.  There was no official notice until the department sent the chief and council a letter later in the day, Nelson said.

"They'll pay for one more night in a hotel and then they have to go," he said Thursday.

Initially, Roseau residents were told to expect to be out of their homes for two to three weeks.

Many Manitoba First Nations weren't ready to fight flood waters this spring, a lack of preparation they blame on a slow response from Ottawa.

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