Friday, 7 December 2012

11/2 years later

Lake Saint Martin First Nation Chief Adrian
Sinclair and Manitoba Liberal Leader
Jon Gerrard.

A rally was held at the Manitoba Legislature
on Nov. 26, 2012.

Image Source: Jon Gerrard's blog
In May of last year I discussed the controlled breech that flooded vast swaths of land in southern Manitoba. In the comments section, I elaborated on the seeming oddity that there was so much talk about compensation for flooded out farmers but little discussion/funding announcements/press conferences about what to do with the flooded out First Nations communities. The Province had no clear plans about where the displaced residents of Lake Saint Martin First Nation would permanently resettle.

In June of this year there was still no resolution to this crisis.

And now, a solid 1 1/2 years later, there is still no resolution to this crisis. Many Lake Saint Martin First Nation residents are crowded in Winnipeg hotels or trailers in a temporary site. The community has no permanent residence. The residents will likely spend Christmas in a city that is alien to them.

True, the Federal Government needs to show leadership. But so does the Province. The Government of Manitoba has to start getting stuff done for the people of Saint Martin First Nation. The Manitoba NDP, what started out as the party of social justice, is presiding over a great social injustice caused by the government's decision to flood some communities to save our city.

As a Winnipegger I am glad that our city was spared. But the Government of Manitoba has a fundamental responsibility to ensure that those whose homes had to be scarified get new ones. And when it comes to Lake Saint Martin and other Interlake First Nations Today's NDP has failed miserably.

I don't always agree with what Jon Gerrard says nor do I think a Liberal government would be much different from the Doerist NDP. Nevertheless I have to commend the Manitoba Liberal leader for actually bringing up the issue in the legislature and rallying with the community for a resolution. There's been much squabbling over how much flood compensation farmers and cottage owners will receive between the Manitoba CONs and the Manitoba NDP in the legislature, yet few have discussed the displacement crisis afflicting Interlake First Nations. Perhaps, given the extreme aloofness to outright hostility to First Nations concerns the Harper CONs display, its understandable that the Pallister CONs aren't bringing it up.

Kudos to Dr. Gerrard.

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