04/16/2013 09:39 EDT | Updated 06/16/2013 05:12 EDT

High-water threat has several Saskatchewan First Nations eyeing Ottawa for aid

FORT QU'APPELLE, Sask. - Nearly a dozen First Nations in Saskatchewan have declared a state of emergency as the threat of spring flooding looms.

Eleven bands — members of the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council — made the declaration Monday.

The bands are also lobbying Ottawa for disaster aid, saying Saskatchewan's disaster assistance program is too slow and cumbersome.

Ed Bellegarde, chairman of the tribal council, says the bands' cash flow is depleted and many of them are still waiting for assistance after flooding three years ago.

Bellegarde says many reserves are grappling with mould problems and will be unable to deal with damage from additional flooding.

He also says the tribal council plans to meet this week with federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt.

An email from the minister's press secretary says Ottawa has provided more than $2 million to over 60 Saskatchewan First Nations to prepare for potential flooding this year.

Andrea Richer also says the minister has agreed to another meeting with Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations representatives later this week to discuss flood planning and response.

(CJLR, The Canadian Press)

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