Manitoba First Nations settle lawsuit over 2011 flooding, evacuation


Published on June 16, 2017

WINNIPEG — Residents of four Manitoba First Nations displaced by flooding in 2011 have settled a class-action lawsuit with the province and federal government.

Flooding six years ago forced out several thousand residents from Lake St. Martin, Dauphin River, Little Saskatchewan and Pinaymootang First Nations — some have not returned home to this day. 

The lawsuit alleged the province "knowingly and recklessly" caused the disaster in their communities by diverting too much floodwater into Lake Manitoba.

It also alleged the government didn't give them enough warning about the flooding.

The law firm McKenzie Lake says in a statement the settlement was reached after "difficult and protracted negotiations."

It still needs to be approved by the court.

"We are very pleased with the settlement, and we commend Manitoba and Canada for entering into good-faith negotiations and for ultimately agreeing to the terms with us," the law firm based in London, Ont., said.

Clifford Anderson of Pinaymootang First Nation and a member of the class-action steering committee, said the settlement is in the best interests of residents. 

"It has been six years since the flood happened and it's time for our members, our elders and our young people to move home and move on."

Manitoba saw record spring flooding in 2011 and the province struggled well into the summer to contain the Assiniboine River. Officials operated the Portage Diversion — a channel that funnels water from the river into Lake Manitoba — over its design capacity.

Provincial flood forecasters argued the flood was one of the worst on record and they did nothing that artificially raised water levels.

Just over 1,000 residents from Lake St. Martin First Nation are still out of their homes waiting for the reserve to be relocated and rebuilt.

The Canadian Press