Montreal Lake Cree Nation has been evacuated for weeks due to a wildfire that nearly destroyed the community.
Fortunately, firefighting efforts were finally able to keep the flames at bay. Six homes were lost, but most were spared.
On Monday, Chief Edward Henderson said the work of hundreds of firefighters and Canadian Forces soldiers had finally brought some stability to the situation. He said he was expecting community members to return later in the week – on Thursday or Friday.
On Tuesday, posters went up around an evacuee centre in Prince Albert saying people acould return to the community on Thursday.
Handouts provided by Montreal Lake Cree Nation Chief on Tuesday. Bryn Levy/CKOM News.
Karri Kempf with Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Social Services said the province had nothing to do with the posters.
“Well that sign is not issued by emergency social services. That is not one of the ways that we would not notify people. We would stick to our regular chains of command,” she said.
Chief Henderson visited evacuees Monday night at the Senator Allen Bird Gym, which has served as a drop-off point for donations. Evacuees have also taken shelter in tents out front of the facility.
Norma Ross-Ballantyne said Henderson came bearing good news.
“Our chief, Ed Henderson, was here last night and told our community we’re allowed to go home,” she said.
Ross-Ballantyne said she’d noticed the province hasn’t said anything about a possible return.
“I thought of it last night, because I figured (the provincial government) would have something to say about it. But I just let it go, because if the chief says we can go home, we can go home,” she said.
Kempf urged evacuees to wait for word from the government before they make any moves to go back to their communities.
“Anybody we have housed in our shelters who we are in direct contact through with the Red Cross we will strongly encourage them to wait until they have safety clearance and are able to access organized transportation so that we know that people travelling on roads are safe and going to arrive at their destination. That’s a good example of where that community and neighbouring communities may not have sufficient information to make choices for themselves as individuals,” she said.
– With files from News Talk’s Kelly Malone
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— Bryn Levy (@BrynLevy) July 14, 2015