It’s been a long six years since devastating flooding forced more than a thousand members of Lake St. Martin First Nation from their homes.
Now some of those community members are returning home for the first time.
“We’re turning over some houses to the community members that have been evacuated for six years,” Chief Adrian Sinclair said from the new location of Lake St. Martin.
“It’s a very proud day for me as a leader to hand over these keys to my members.”
Approximately 25 families will move into their new homes over the next couple of weeks.
Sinclair expects 190 homes to be completed by mid-December with another 130 homes completed sometime next year.
(Alex Traverse holds the keys to his new home. Photo: Brittany Hobson/APTN)
Families are being moved in phases with the goal to move all community members back to the First Nation by the end of next year.
Alex Traverse was the first member to get the keys to his new home.
He said he’s excited to bring his two-year-old daughter Kaiya home to her community for the first time.
“When we move here I think that she’ll catch on fast that this is her new home,” he said.
Traverse’s daughter is just one of many young kids who will see their home for the first time since the 2011 flood.
Since the flood, community members have been stuck living in hotels or rental homes in Winnipeg while the community has rebuilt from the ground up.
The new reserve is located a 5-minute drive from the old reserve.
A dike with a drainage system has been built around the new reserve to prevent future flooding.
Traverse says that’s not the only thing that’s changed.
A brand new water treatment plant will provide each home with drinkable water. Something that Traverse takes pride is as one of the workers in the plant.
“I’m going to make sure the first priority is always the water,” he said. “I’d have to say it’s probably better than most bottled water you can buy in the store.”
The community will also have a new school for kindergarten to grade 12, a fire station and a church.
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