Flooding in Manitoba – Grand Chief seeks solutions

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Albany Flood Watch
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak
Grand Chief Derek Nepinak

WINNIPEG – Aboriginal – Flooding in Manitoba impacting First Nations communities has Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak reaching out ahead of time to federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt. 

The Grand Chief is appealing for help in addressing the potential problems as well as seeking long-term solutions.

Here is the text of the letter sent to the Aboriginal Affairs 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 run-off and flooding. The municipalities, agricultural communities and farmers all have addressed flooding and mitigation on the lands adjacent to First Nation 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.

It is my understanding that despite year after year of flooding, no serious investment in long-term flood mitigation has been initiated in the Fisher River Cree Nation, nor the Peguis First Nation. Although it is apparent that your government is making funding available for housing replacement and some infrastructure investment, the long-term investment needed for flood mitigation is simply not there. Lack of investment in mitigation contributes to the displacement of families from their communities in evacuation centres and hotels. This is unacceptable as the outcomes of displacement and evacuation are devastating to families.

In addition to long-term flood mitigation, it is apparent that many communities are not prepared in a timely fashion to prepare for spring flooding. In the absence of long-term mitigation investments, rapid deployment flood prevention technology & equipment should be on the ground to help save homes and prevent displacement of families. To this end, we are hopeful that investments can be made in better technology in addressing flooding. This would mean moving away from ‘ad hoc’ responses like making sandbag dikes, which are both labour intensive and time-consuming, to investing in mobile inflatable dams which can be valuable tools in saving homes.

I hope that I have your commitment in working together to help Manitoba First Nations leadership ensure that our families are not continuously displaced year after year from flooding.

Sincerely,

ASSEMBLY OF MANITOBA CHIEFS

Derek J. Nepinak, LLB, B.A. (Hons.)
Grand Chief, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs 

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