The 18 families in Portage la Prairie facing eviction for not paying rent to Manitoba Housing for the past 21 years will meet with federal officials to try to find alternative living options that could include a new reserve.

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This article was published 21/8/2017 (1771 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The 18 families in Portage la Prairie facing eviction for not paying rent to Manitoba Housing for the past 21 years will meet with federal officials to try to find alternative living options that could include a new reserve.

The meeting is scheduled for Sept. 7, but the families are still facing an Aug. 28 eviction deadline.

"It's such a big confusion," residents' organizer Donna Gabriel said Monday.

The major issue has always been their forcible removal in 1996 from Waterhen First Nation — now Skownan First Nation — north of Dauphin, Gabriel said.

"We want a full consultation," she said.

Sabrina Williams, press secretary to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Minister Carolyn Bennett, said from Ottawa the feds are not involved in that original dispute.

"INAC is not involved in the ongoing governance dispute involving Skownan First Nation and band members who are living in Portage la Prairie. We encourage all parties involved to resolve housing issues and any other disputes internally and to work with Manitoba Housing toward a resolution," Williams said via email.

"INAC is aware that some members of Skownan First Nation have expressed a desire to establish a new reserve near Portage la Prairie. Manitoba regional officials have provided the First Nation with information relating to departmental policy for creating new reserves and/or First Nations. No application for separate band/reserve status has been filed by the group.

"On June 13, 2017, a letter was sent to Ms. Gabriel by the minister indicating that a meeting is being scheduled with her legal representatives and department of justice officials to explore possible options."

 

Even though that meeting is Sept. 7 in Winnipeg, the eviction deadline stands and there have been no indications the deadline will be extended, Gabriel said.

"Nobody has given us assurances."

 

An aide to Families Minister Scott Fielding said Monday there has been no extension: the eviction has been possible at any time since the court of appeal ruled June 29 that the residents must leave. The province says they owe at least $1.2 million in rent.

Fielding's office referred questions about the eviction deadline to Manitoba Justice, which declined to comment Monday.

Gabriel said three people came to the units on Friday from Manitoba Housing's Portage la Prairie office.

"These are counsellors from income assistance that came around, three of them. Nobody came from Winnipeg to talk to us," she said.

The residents had expected sheriff's officers to evict them last Monday at 11 a.m., but that didn't happen. The province has said only that the sheriff will decide when to act.

 

 

 

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca