East Prairie Metis Settlement is receiving $9 million to help rebuild homes that were destroyed and repair others damaged in this spring’s wildfires.
The Government of Alberta made the announcement July 17. Doing the honours were: Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson; Seniors, Community and Social Services Minister Jason Nixon; and Lesser Slave Lake MLA Scott Sinclair.
“The government’s here to help,” said Nixon, noting that 39 structures were lost including 14 homes.
He added the government worked closely with East Prairie Metis Settlement to ensure needs were met and that the settlement would “come out stronger” in the aftermath of the disaster.
The $9 million comes from the Indigenous Housing Capital Program.
“One of the challenges in the case of the Metis Settlements is that they do not receive any federal money for emergencies, unlike other First Nation communities in the province. That puts the situation here very unique and there is no existing program within the Alberta Emergency Response Apparatus to be able to repair homes that have been lost on Metis Settlements,” said Nixon.
“It broke my heart to see the devastation in East Prairie Metis Settlement,” said Wilson.
“The pain (residents) must have felt when you returned home,” he added, noting it was the government’s role to move as quickly as possible to get people back into their homes.
Sinclair, who met with many residents after they were displaced, noted the money will provide a major boost to getting the community rebuilt.
“. . .as much as people appreciate the kind words and thoughts and prayers, if it’s not followed up by immediate action, it doesn’t really mean that much at the end of the day.
“I’m proud to be part of this government,” Sinclair said.
He thanked East Prairie council for helping guide the government through the process. Wilson noted that administrator Sacha Martens worked “around the clock” to make sure needs were met.
“A lot of these people have gone through a very trying time,” said Nixon.
The one-time funding through this program is in addition to the $46 million that the Seniors, Community and Social Services department has committed to help thousands of wildfire evacuees across Alberta.
by Chris Clegg