APTN National NewsA group of Saskatchewan First Nations have declared a state of emergency as water levels rise near their communities and anticipate mass flooding.The 11 First Nations of File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council issued the warning and are seeking resources to mitigate the upcoming flood season.They argue the provincial disaster assistance program (PDAP) doesn’t work because it takes too long to obtain funding and leaves First Nations to fend for themselves.“The current PDAP system is failing our First Nations communities,” said Edmund Bellegarde, chairperson of the FHQTC, in a news release. “The provincial program imposes barriers for our First Nations to access adequate funding and puts our citizen’s basic needs at risk. There are serious health issues as a result of flooding impacts such as families forced to live with mold.”Located in southern Saskatchewan the communities are in a flood zone expected to be impacted by the spring run off.One of the 11 communities directly impacted is Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation situated in the Qu’Appelle Valley located between the Pasqua and Echo Lakes near Fort Qu’Appelle.“It’s rather alarming how PDAP is operated. Our First Nation has to take on the financial burden of preparing for this years flood,” said Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation Chief Rodger Redman in a press release. “PDAP is still dealing with flood claims from 2010/2011. How are we supposed to carry this financial responsibility when we have not received adequate compensation from two years prior, we are committed to ensuring the safety of our citizens, lands, animals while also protecting and securing safe passage for those who travel across our lands or make their homes in our territories.”The federal government funds PDAP.Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt confirmed Tuesday afternoon he intends to meet with the FHQTC discuss “flood planning and response.” The FHQTC requested the meeting to discuss an agreement where First Nations can access flooding relief funding quicker.“We are working with the province of Saskatchewan and First Nations to ensure communities are prepared for potential floods,” said an Aboriginal Affairs spokesman. “In order to help mitigate flood damages and in preparation for spring 2013, our government has provided funds to over 60 Saskatchewan First Nations for preparedness activities.”Valcourt is also scheduled to meet with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.
- 11 Saskatchewan First Nations issue state of emergency as water levels rise