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April 12, 2022

As a significant storm approaches, the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is calling for supports and policy needed to ensure the safety of First Nations during extreme weather events.

Southern Manitoba is expecting a Colorado low beginning Tuesday evening anticipated to bring heavy snowfall and the possibility of freezing rain and is recommending that citizens be prepared to shelter in place for 72 hours.

“Ensuring the safety of our communities during extreme weather requires a proactive emergency management approach,” said SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “Our federal Treaty partner must have policy and processes in place that allow for funding to flow immediately to support our people to safely shelter in place.”

The duration of processing time for eligible expenses incurred by communities during emergency situations can lag and impede timely access to emergency management services. “In the fall storm of October 2019, we had multiple communities declare states of emergency,” said Grand Chief Daniels. “Today, we continue to advocate for timely and immediate access to funding for essential services and support in a weather crisis.”

Due to the inadequate access to emergency preparedness kits and resources in community, including generators required to power essential services, families are routinely displaced and relocated to Winnipeg or other city hotels. The current level of emergency shelter support in Manitoba cities does not meet the needs of individuals seeking relief.

“The Chiefs of the southern First Nations are committed to collaborating on risk reduction and emergency management solutions,” added Grand Chief Daniels. “We will continue to work together and identify sustainable strategies that mitigate risk and build climate resiliency in our communities for the long-term.”

We pray for everyone’s safety over the course of the coming storm. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, please contact local emergency authorities and your leadership immediately.