POLITICS

Native firefighters association wants out of caring for flood evacuees

06/04/2013 05:11 EDT | Updated 08/04/2013 05:12 EDT
WINNIPEG - Manitoba's aboriginal affairs minister says he wants the Red Cross to deal with several thousand First Nations evacuees displaced from their homes by flooding in 2011.

Eric Robinson said the Manitoba Association of Native Firefighters doesn't want to be responsible for the care of about 2,000 people anymore.

The association is being audited following allegations it racked up excessive food and hotel bills, as well as hired relatives to act as co-ordinators while overseeing arrangements for the evacuees.

Robinson said the association's specialty is training firefighters and helping reserves with emergency plans.

"You'll recall that the Manitoba Association of Native Firefighters was asked to step into this a couple of years ago and it's not really within their aims and objectives as an organization to do that kind of work," he said.

The Red Cross is in a much better position to care for the needs of the evacuees, who are still without permanent homes, Robinson suggested.

"The Red Cross is better suited," he said. "They are a reputable agency, a non-governmental organization that does a lot of work with people in similar situations. We anticipate that they will do a good job."

The First Nations evacuees are living in hotels or have found private accommodations since the 2011 spring flood destroyed their homes and forced them from their communities.