‘You never get over the devastation’: Manitoba flood evacuee on why she’s suing

Brittany Hobson
APTN National News
A new ruling from the Manitoba highest court will allow four First Nations affected by the 2011 flood to go ahead with their class-action lawsuit against the province.

One woman who has spent the last six years living away from her home said she has not gotten over the devastation. Bertha Travers is part of the group going forward with the lawsuit.

Bertha Travers is part of the group going forward with the lawsuit.

“You’re away from home, you’re away from family, you’ve been completely separated by family and to me that’s another genocide,” said Travers who is from Little Saskatchewan First Nation.

There are thousands of others joining her in the lawsuit.

“We did place a class-action against the province as well as Manitoba Association of Firefighters, but I think the government should have done more studies on the land.”

Last week, Manitoba’s court of appeal ruled the group is allowed to go ahead with one lawsuit on behalf of Dauphin River, Lake St. Martin, Little Saskatchewan and Pinaymootang First Nations. The group’s original class-action lawsuit was denied in 2014, but a request for appeal was granted in 2015.

The group’s original class-action lawsuit was denied in 2014, but a request for appeal was granted in 2015.

The law firm representing the groups says last week’s decision is a positive sign for those fighting to have their voices heard.

“What they want is they want to have a fair chance at a day in court to prove their case,” said Michael Peerless from McKenzie Lake Lawyers.

“That’s what they think this decision gives them. The opportunity to take this case forward- a balanced way and with a big enough group that the playing field is close enough to being levelled.”

An update released in early January via the federal government estimates that nearly 2,000 people are still displaced. Ottawa also said they have invested more than $10 million to prevent further flooding in eleven First Nations communities.

Travers hopes the lawsuit will bring justice to those displaced, but she’s worried her community will face flooding again.

“I’m still hoping the federal government, as well as the province would find higher ground for us so that we don’t face another catastrophe like this,” said Travers.

The province has two months to appeal the case. It said the case is under review but no decision on further action has been made.

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