LAKE ST. MARTIN — A community torn apart by flooding in 2011 is taking shape with a new school, water treatment facility and homes to follow.
The more than 1,000 residents of Lake St. Martin First Nation were forced to evacuate and have been displaced for six years since the floods.
A groundbreaking ceremony Thursday afternoon for the community’s new school is a sign that after six years, people from the First Nation will finally be able to go home.
“It is really happening and we’re very glad to see a brand-new school in our community,” Gertrude Summer, who taught at the former school, said Thursday.
“It won’t be like the old school that I worked in — this is going to be different.”
The plans showed during the ceremony show a 25-classroom school with a hockey arena, soccer pitch and baseball field. The new school will also go up to grade 12, so kids from Lake St. Martin will no longer have to be bused out of the community for high school.
The facility will be new, but some students hope the classes taught at their old school will still be part of the curriculum.
“Out here, they actually had outdoor activities and classes like fishing, hunting and snaring,”said student Jason Pruden.
The new school is expected to cost the federal government nearly $20 million and will open its doors in the summer of 2018.
Many of those evacuated from the First Nation in 2011 have been staying in Winnipeg and Lake St. Martin Chief Adrian Sinclair said adjusting to the city was hard on the community’s youth.
“A lot of our children, we’re losing them to the streets. That’s why I want to bring them back because that’s our future,” Sinclair said Thursday.
Since 2011, 94 member of the small community died before getting the chance to return home.
“It’s been a hard struggle throughout the six years,” Sinclair said.
The first pre-constructed homes are expected to arrive in July.