Manitoba family displaced by 2011 flood still without permanent home

A family from the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba, says they may be forced to move for the 16th time since it was displaced by a flood nearly five years ago.

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Cheryl and Albert Sutherland say they’ve been “bounced around” between different levels of government, but still don’t know when -- if ever -- they will have a permanent home.

The Sutherlands and dozens of other Peguis First Nation families were forced out of their homes after a devastating 2011 flood swept the community, located about 145 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

They family eventually returned and moved into a prefabricated home purchased by the First Nation with federal funding. But that home turned out to be uninhabitable as well. It was improperly insulated and had various structural and electrical issues, the Sutherlands say.

Their family of 10 had to move into a trailer while the modular home was stripped down right to its concrete foundation.

When the family moved into another home, the children got sick from the mould inside the house, Cheryl Sutherland told CTV News Channel.

The family was then bounced between hotels before they were finally able to rent a home in Winnipeg in December. But they’re now unsure if their February rent will be covered.

This week, the Sutherlands spoke to federal officials who said their housing situation is the responsibility of the Peguis First Nation. But they say they haven’t received answers from the local government, either.

Numerous attempts by CTV Winnipeg to contact Peguis First Nation Chief Cindy Spence were unsuccessful.

“It’s been a struggle over time,” Albert Sutherland told CTV News Channel on Tuesday.

His wife said that approximately 30 to 40 other prefabricated homes purchased for the displaced residents of Peguis First Nation were also uninhabitable or in poor condition.

“Someone has to be responsible,” she said. “We’re getting bounced around from our band to the federal and now to the provincial government. No one wants to take responsibility. Who is going to pay for all the repairs for these homes? Nobody knows.”

According to the federal government, there are still more than 2,400 Manitoba First Nations evacuees from floods in 2011 and 2014.

The total cost of housing the evacuees is approaching $140 million.

With files from CTV Winnipeg’s Ben Miljure


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