Cockroaches, mould discovered in Winnipeg hotel rooms housing Mathias Colomb Cree Nation wildfire evacuees

Cockroaches, used syringes and mould that left several people hospitalized are among the issues wildfire evacuees from Mathias Colomb Cree Nation are facing at some of the hotels where they’re now staying, an official helping co-ordinate the evacuation says.

Kaitlynn Brightnose, who works for the First Nation’s Emergency Measures Organization, said on the first night people from the northern Manitoba community arrived in Winnipeg, she found what she saw at one hotel unacceptable.

“Some of these rooms have mould. Some of our members were hospitalized due to mould inhalation.… The treatment and the places that they’re being put is unacceptable. And we keep advocating and arguing, but it’s like I’m talking to a brick wall,” she said, hitting the back of her hand for emphasis.

Brightnose said there was also what appeared to be dried blood on the floors of some rooms.

No assistance was provided to deal with the cockroaches either, she said Friday at a news conference held by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, an advocacy organization that represents 26 First Nations in northern Manitoba.

When she asked for the community members to be moved to other hotels where she heard there were empty rooms, Brightnose said the Canadian Red Cross told her it would not be possible to move them all to a new hotel.

“Our community members, they’re already stressed out. They’re displaced.… We have young mothers and kids,” she said.

A woman holds a toddler as they both smile.
Mathias Colomb Cree Nation member Shyanne Everett and her three-year-old son, Ryden, are among the evacuees staying in Winnipeg after being forced from their home last week by a wildfire. (Submitted by Shyanne Everett)

“And it’s not any way you want to be treated or … living, being shuffled from hotel to hotel and you’re being put in rundown places that [are] basically squalor.”

Mathias Colomb Cree Nation member Shyanne Everett said there were cockroaches in the hotel room she was placed in when she and her family first arrived in Winnipeg last Friday after fleeing the wildfire.

The 29-year-old said they were later moved to another hotel and on Friday morning were told they would have to find yet another place to stay when the hotel where they had been moved told all its evacuees they had to go.

A cockroach trapped inside an empty plastic water bottle.
A cockroach found in wildfire evacuee Shyanne Everett’s Winnipeg hotel room is pictured trapped inside a water bottle. (Submitted by Shyanne Everett)

On Friday evening, the mother said she, her sister and their combined nine kids — including one who has autism — were still waiting at the Red Cross registration desk to find a new place to sleep. They’d been there since 9 a.m., she said.

“I feel stressed and [like I’m] not being treated fairly,” Everett told CBC News in a Facebook message.

Hotel space at capacity: Red Cross

The blaze that forced residents out of the First Nation over the past week was last estimated by the province’s online wildfire map to be 527.6 square kilometres in size.

The out-of-control fire was first detected July 13, and evacuations started the following day. The cause is listed as natural.

Red Cross spokesperson Jason Small said the consistent hotel space in Winnipeg available to the organization for evacuees displaced by the fire is at capacity.

There are about 2,000 people forced from Mathias Colomb and more than 1,500 from Peguis First Nation who have been displaced since May because of flooding in that community, he said.

Some of the evacuees from Mathias Colomb are staying in Thompson, The Pas and Brandon.

The Red Cross has also opened a shelter for additional accommodations at the University of Winnipeg, Small said in an email Friday.

Evacuees who have raised concerns about the state of their hotel rooms have been offered access to that shelter because of the lack of space in hotels, he said.

Small said the Red Cross continues to work to find other hotel rooms for those evacuees, but until that happens there is space available at the clean, safe shelter.

A spokesperson for Indigenous Services Canada, which provides funding to the Red Cross for the evacuees, said it’s working directly with the First Nation, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and the Red Cross to identify concerns about the current availability of accommodations.

The department’s priority is to make sure all evacuees who need accommodations have a place that is safe and appropriate, spokesperson Megan MacLean said in an emailed statement.

Planning to get evacuees back home is underway, and Indigenous Services Canada will continue to support them when they return, MacLean said.

View original article here Source