APTN National News
The Canadian Red Cross is shutting down one of two emergency shelters for Manitoba evacuees fleeing wildfires in the northern part of the province.
The agency says more hotel rooms in Winnipeg are available, so the large shelter at the Winnipeg Convention Centre that was opened a week ago is to close Thursday.
On August 28, wildfires caused a community wide emergency evacuation.
More than 2,000 people from Wasagamack were relocated to Winnipeg, Brandon, and Thompson with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
“Our residents who have been staying in soccer complexes and convention centres,” said Wasagamack First Nation Chief Alex Mcdougall. Since being relocated, residents have been sleeping on cots.
“Community leaders feel the government is not doing their part to give them proper accommodations.”
Community leaders said they have been trying to make contact with Premier Brian Pallister to try and get him to declare a state of emergency so they can try and get their people into better living conditions.
“I shouldn’t have to explain what my people are going through for you guys to listen, Premier Pallister,” said Judy Klassen, MLA for Kewatinook. “Brian I work with you every day when we’re in session, you have to believe that.
“You have to believe me-take my word for it. I am getting upset because my people are still in cots.”
It is not clear when the people of Wasagamack can return home – but they are hoping the government can help make their stay more livable.
Chiefs from the area say they are grateful for the Red Cross’s help but the evacuation would have been a lot easier had governments invested in proper infrastructure.
Sheila North Wilson, a grand chief who represents northern Manitoba First Nations, says proper roads and airports would have prevented people from one community – Wasagamack – from having to pile into small boats in the dark to make their way to safety.
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-with files from the Canadian Press