AMC acknowledges partners assisting evacuated residents from Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi First Nations
Treaty One Territory, MB – Today Grand Chief Arlen Dumas, on behalf of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC), acknowledged the staff and volunteers at the Canadian Red Cross, Manitoba Region of Indigenous Services Canada, Manitoba Sustainable Development, Manitoba Hydro, and local RCMP for their roles in assisting residents of Little Grand Rapids First Nation and Pauingassi First Nation in Manitoba.
Grand Chief Dumas also acknowledges the Chief and Council of both Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi for their leadership during this time along with the community based volunteers for the dedicated efforts they provided in helping their fellow citizens.
More than 1,400 residents from the two First Nations have been returning to their homes over the past few days. The Canadian Red Cross was transporting residents by plane and then by boat and/or helicopter.
Pauingassi First Nation does not have an airstrip so evacuees were transported into Pauingassi First Nation by helicopter and float plane. The airport at Little Grand Rapids is located on an island, so residents had to return to their community by boat. There have been 200 volunteers working a total of 10,800 hours with the Canadian Red Cross to help the evacuees while they were staying in Winnipeg.
Manitoba Hydro worked for weeks to restore power to the communities. A sub transmission line, feeder lines and a distribution system had been damaged in the fire.
Since the communities were without power for weeks, any food left in residents’ fridges and freezers spoiled. The rotting food and contaminated appliances created bio-hazardous waste. The teams working with the Canadian Red Cross helped to remove fridges and freezers and to clean the affected houses to prevent further degradation of the homes. About 800 new fridges were purchased and flown into the communities before residents were allowed to return home.
“Ensuring the safety of more than a thousand people of all ages is no small task,” said Grand Chief Arlen Dumas. “I want to ensure that the Canadian Red Cross is aware that the AMC fully supports the important and difficult responsibility that they have undertaken to assist our communities during this disaster. I also want to thank Indigenous Services Canada for their quick work in ensuring the activation of the Canadian Armed Forces in the evacuation, Manitoba Sustainable Development for fighting the fire and providing value protection for community infrastructure and Manitoba Hydro for working as quickly as possible to restore power to both communities.”
The evacuees stayed in Winnipeg hotels during the time they were displaced. The decision on when to return home was made by Chief and Council in consultation with the emergency management team at Indigenous Services Canada and the Canadian Red Cross.
The Canadian Red Cross has an agreement with the federal government to provide disaster assistance to Manitoba First Nations. The Canadian Red Cross provides lodging, food, and other essential items.
“We also send our gratitude to all of the organizations, such as Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, for providing recreational activities for the children who were evacuated from these communities. Some organizations donated items and tickets to benefit the evacuees. We are grateful to the kindness shown to community members—your generosity helped to ease some of the discomfort that comes with being displaced and far from home.”
The AMC will continue to work closely with Manitoba First Nations, the Canadian Red Cross, and other partners to ensure that First Nations in Manitoba continue to build robust plans for fire prevention and emergency management.