(Members of the St. Theresa Point First Nation head home on a barge after staying in Winnipeg while officials tackled wildfires in the region. Photo courtesy Lily Lyn)
APTN National News
Hundreds of wildfire evacuees from St. Theresa Point First Nation in the Island Lake region of Manitoba have been given the green light to return home.
Over the weekend leadership from St. Theresa Point determined it was safe for residents to go back to the community.
The Red Cross said the decision to return home is made by each First Nation, in consultation with the federal government.
Evacuees began flying home Sunday afternoon and continued into Monday morning.
More than 1,000 people were forced from St. Theresa Point at the end of August due to smoke from a fire near Wasagamack First Nation.
Evacuees have been staying in Winnipeg, Brandon, and Thompson.
On Friday the province released an update saying the recent rain has helped keep “fire activity low.” They added it should no longer pose a threat to the community.
The Red Cross says nearly 900 people returned home over the course of the two days. Some evacuees started heading home last week.
“It is great that the people of St. Theresa Point are able to head home and get back to their lives,” said Shawn Feely, Canadian Red Cross vice-president, Manitoba and Nunavut in a statement.
“For those evacuees still outside of their homes, the Red Cross team continues to work with the communities leaders to provide necessary support.”
Approximately 2,000 people were evacuated from Wasagmack and more than 2,300 were evacuated from Garden Hill.
Those evacuees are still staying in Winnipeg and Brandon.
Preparations for those residents to return home began Monday.
“A team of about 70 is returning home today to start the process of preparing the community for everyone else to return,” said Jason Small, a spokesperson for the Canadian Red Cross.
“It has still not been decided when the remainder can head home.”
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