It appears First Nations in Saskatchewan will have little choice but to deal with the province when it come to receiving disaster assistance for potential spring flooding.
Recently, some chiefs have expressed a desire to bypass the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program and instead get money directly from Ottawa.
Many First Nations say dealing with the province is a lengthy process.
One tribal chief in southern Saskatchewan, Edmund Bellegarde, says a few bands have been waiting since 2010 to get money for previous floods.
Chief Ian McKay is the chief of the Red Earth First Nation.
He and some other chiefs traveled to Ottawa recently to talk to the Aboriginal Affairs Bernard Valcourt about the issue.
However, McKay says not much has changed since the meeting.
“Our understanding of the minister’s position is that we’ll have to work within the existing support systems that are available through his departmental officials at the regional level and with the support systems at the provincial level,” he says.
Chief McKay says surface water is starting to flow on the reserve and the Water Security Agency expects similar flooding levels to those of 2011 during which the reserve had to be evacuated.
Minister Valcourt’s office issued a statement after his meeting with the chiefs which states all parties agree the number one priority is ensuring the health and safety of First Nations community members in the event of an emergency.
In the release, Minister Valcourt also says an effective, efficient approach to emergency response must include the province, as well as the input of First Nations.