CALGARY- Despite one year passing since the June floods tore through their community, many people who live on the Siksika First Nation are still not allowed back in their homes.
“I come here maybe twice a month, and sit outside and just grieve,” says councillor Stewart Own Chief, surveying the damage left behind.
Many of his belongings were swept away by the flood waters, replaced by the smell of decay. He still vividly remembers the day he was first allowed back to see the damage.
“We all got on the bus and everyone got off at their house, it was pretty emotional. Everyone was in tears,” he says.
“I just broke down…it was just like, why?”
Last month about 500 people were allowed back into their repaired homes, but the rest continue to live in trailers, confined to just one room and a bathroom. They will soon be moving into modular homes, but it’s not clear how long they’ll have to stay, as they can’t rebuild in the flood zone.
Own Chief plans to return to his home one last time before it’s demolished.
“It’s tough, you know. Sometimes it’s like yesterday, but I just take it day by day. I use perseverance, resilience, that’s what keeps me going.”
In November, the province gave Siksika $83 million to help rebuild homes and infrastructure, as well as $10 million to train residents to be part of the rebuilding process.
-With files from Carolyn Kury de Castillo