A new documentary examines the plight and personal stories of two Manitoba First Nations communities that are still displaced as the result of a 2011 flood.
Treading Water: Plight of the Manitoba First Nation Flood Evacuees is the product of brother and sister documentary filmmakers Janelle and Jeremie Wookey.
It chronicles the hardships of 2,100 residents of the Lake St. Martin region who have been forced to live in hotels and temporary housing for the past three-and-a-half years after their homes were destroyed by the flood.
Janelle Wookey says being separated from their communities for such an extended period of time has taken a heavy psychological toll on the residents of the Lake St. Martin and Little Saskatchewan First Nations.
“A lot of families we heard had experienced people in their families who had actually committed suicide and they attributed their suicide to the traumatic nature of being displaced,” she says.
Wookey also says a number of children from the communities have not attended school for more than three years as a result of the displacement.
She adds the families have become somewhat of a political football as various levels of government and organizations have failed to help them reconstruct their communities.
“We learned that there are so many layers, so many different players the game – there’s hotel rooms, there’s governments, the different levels of government, the leadership of the different First Nations and a lot of people taking advantage of things and a lot of people with agendas.”
The Lake St. Martin region is located about 75 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.
Treading Water will be screened Friday at the imagineNative Film Festival in Toronto.
It has already aired on the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network and CBC.