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Lake St. Martin First Nation’s ‘Operation Return Home’ continues

JOC News Service
Lake St. Martin First Nation’s ‘Operation Return Home’ continues

WINNIPEG — Seven years after severe flooding displaced thousands of residents of the Lake St. Martin First Nation community in Manitoba, 190 newly built homes are now ready for occupancy with an additional 130 homes to be completed by fall 2019.

The housing development was made possible through a cost-shared investment of $49.5 million by the Province of Manitoba and the Government of Canada. The First Nation’s Chief and Council are working with the Canadian Red Cross to help residents who wish to return to the community come back home, said a provincial release.

“Our people have been through so much in the past seven years. It’s comforting to know some of our members have returned home. However, we still have over 300 people wanting to return to our traditional lands,” said Chief Adrian Sinclair of the Lake St. Martin First Nation in a statement.

“Much work, negotiations and planning must be done to see the next wave of members return home in the fall of 2019. We look forward to the continued work with our various partners to ensure completion of Operation Return Home.”

As outlined in the release, construction of the community’s vital infrastructure such as water and sewage treatment facilities, a public works garage and fire hall is already complete. A new kindergarten to Grade 12 School is also slated to open this month.

The Government of Canada invested $19.7 million in the school project.

The federal and provincial governments have also invested in the development and servicing of a new community site, located on higher ground above the flood levels experienced in 2011, said the release.

A province-wide state of emergency was declared in early May 2011 as the flood featured the highest water levels and flows in modern history across parts of Manitoba. Approximately 7,100 Manitobans were displaced from their homes as a result of the flood.

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