Manitoba First Nation loses court docket bid for continued flood evacuation advantages

WINNIPEG—A Manitoba First Nation has misplaced its bid to have Ottawa proceed paying evacuation advantages to folks pressured from their properties by flooding in 2011.

Lake St. Martin First Nation was in search of an injunction of a choice to chop off advantages for evacuees who nonetheless shouldn’t have properties within the Indigenous group.


“The LSM (Lake St. Martin First Nation) can not succeed as a result of it has failed to fulfill its burden of building irreparable hurt,” Federal Courtroom Justice Cecily Strickland wrote in a choice dated Jan. 29. “The movement is subsequently denied.”

The First Nation stated it had been advised that advantages can be discontinued on the finish of final month, though an extension was given till the top of January.

Lake St. Martin Chief Adrian Sinclair stated he’s shocked by the ruling.


“That was fairly laborious to simply accept with the quantity of evacuees that we’re going to be leaving on the streets right here in Winnipeg with out hire and housing,” stated Sinclair. “It’s a really laborious choice to take.”

Members of the band had been pressured to go away their properties when water was diverted from the Assiniboine River into Lake Manitoba to scale back the danger of flooding in Winnipeg.

Water from the lake then flooded the group and precipitated intensive harm. All housing and infrastructure on the reserve wanted to get replaced.


A lawsuit by Lake St. Martin and three different First Nations affected by the flooding alleged the province “knowingly and recklessly” precipitated the catastrophe.

It was settled in 2018 when the federal and Manitoba governments agreed to pay out $90 million to about 7,000 folks from the communities.


As Lake St. Martin was rebuilt in a brand new location at a better elevation, most members lived in Winnipeg with help from evacuation advantages. As properties and infrastructure had been constructed, most returned dwelling and their advantages stopped.

As of November, nevertheless, 992 evacuees had nonetheless not returned.

Attorneys for the federal authorities argued there are sufficient properties within the new First Nation to accommodate group members.


In keeping with numbers within the court docket choice, there’ll quickly be a complete of 310 homes within the rebuilt group plus a further 40-unit residence constructing for a complete of 350 properties.

“There’ll now be 1191 bedrooms accessible for 1297 evacuees, their kids born since 2011, and kids who’ve since turned 18,” Strickland wrote.

“It’s affordable to assume that a few of these evacuees shall be who will share a bed room and young children who will be capable to do the identical.”


She famous that this considerably exceeds the pre-flood housing of 182 properties and it was on this foundation that the federal authorities decided that there was enough housing to accommodate all evacuated residents, in addition to kids born since 2011, and that advantages might, subsequently, be ended.

“The issue I’m confronted with is that there’s little proof to help the LSM (Lake St. Martin) First Nation’s place that evacuees have nowhere to return to on reserve and shall be rendered homeless if evacuees advantages are terminated.”

Sinclair stated he disagrees with the court docket’s evaluation.


Get extra of the Star in your inbox

By no means miss the newest information from the Star. Join our newsletters to get right now’s prime tales, your favorite columnists and plenty extra in your inbox

Sign Up Now

“All the homes within the reserve are taken they usually’re maximized to the house that they’re required to for every household,” stated Sinclair.


“Lots of people wish to go dwelling. The issue is we simply don’t have sufficient housing.”


Indigenous Companies Canada stated as of Jan. 9, 475 evacuees have returned to the rebuilt Lake St. Martin group. The federal government stated there are 130 evacuees whose advantages will proceed till the top of March when their properties are to be prepared.