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Peguis First Nation declares state of emergency over chronic flooding, deplorable housing conditions


Cheryl-Lee Spence and her children have been displaced by flooding on Peguis First Nation multiple times.

The last evacuation lasted eight months, and they had eight kids and two adults in a hotel room.

“It was very stressful, it was hard emotionally and keeping our kids crammed in a hotel, it’s not living,” said Spence.

The family came home last October to a foot of water in the basement, damage to the home, and theft.

This was on top of the chronic mold problem in the house which made her and her children sick.

“Three were hospitalized, my youngest one was a recent one where she was put in the ICU twice,” said Spence.

Peguis First Nation estimates around 120 homes are condemned in the community but because of a shortage of housing, people live in some of them anyway.

The leaders here have declared a state of emergency to bring attention to the overland flooding which occurs every other year and the related housing crisis.

“The scars left by these waters are not visible only on buildings alone, but are evident in the eyes and the hearts of our people,” said Chief Stan Bird.

They want help from the federal and provincial governments and say the flooding, constant displacements, and lack of housing are taking a toll on residents of all ages, as reports of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and self-harm are overwhelming support workers.

“The answer is to allow Peguis to do what they see fit, how to help the families,” said Patricia Caribou from Peguis Wellness Team.

Meantime, kids are struggling to get an education, the roads are in such bad shape from flooding, and there are too many days when the buses don’t run.

The call for help comes after the First Nation recently launched a lawsuit against all three levels of government seeking compensation due to a lack of flood protection.

“It highlights our resolve to ensure that the days of neglect and oversight at the expense of Peguis are over,” said Bird.

Spence hopes help is on the way, as some have nowhere to go.

“There’s probably about 15 people living inside the rec centre right now as a homeless shelter, and that place should have been torn down,” Spence said. Top Stories

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