Manitoba homecoming six years in the making held Thursday in Lake St. Martin

Alex Traverse gets the first look inside his new home in Lake St. Martin. Global News

Over six years after being forced out of their homes due to flooding, the first families received keys to their new homes in the community of Lake St. Martin Nov. 2.

The community was evacuated due to flooding in May 2011.  Many residents lived in hotels, then found rental homes while others lived in a government settlement near Gympsumville, Man.

READ MORE: Homes set up for Lake St. Martin flood victims remain empty, set to be moved

The rebuild and return to the community dubbed ‘Operation Return Home’ campaign was announced in June 2015 with the Manitoba government committing to fund 40 percent of the $300 million plan. The federal government was to kick in the balance.

READ MORE: Lake St. Martin starts rebuilding 4 years after massive flood

Homes were shipped to Lake St. Martin First Nation earlier this year after the community was torn apart by a flood six years ago. Rudi Pawlychyn/Global News

Phase one of the redeveloped community, the south sub-division, was officially opened this week. Pre-fab structures were were sent from Matix Lumber in Headingley, Man. in April.

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READ MORE: Lake St. Martin First Nation gets 1st round of new homes years after devastating flood

Eileen Clarke, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Relations for the province said the government was proud to announce the return of evacuees to Lake St. Martin.

“We will continue to work positively and respectfully with the First Nations to ensure the safe return home of affected community members,” she said.

The first 30 homes have now been completed and are ready to receive families, with a total of 150 homes expected to be completed by the end of the month.

Alex Traverse was one of the first people to get the keys to his new home one Thursday,

“I can’t believe this is happening now, we have been six years into this and it’s a surreal moment for everyone here,” Traverse said.

A new school is already under construction – a groundbreaking ceremony was held in April of this year.

READ MORE: Lake St. Martin First Nation breaks ground for new school 6 years after devastating flood

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