Hundreds of Peguis First Nation residents have been forced from their homes and are being housed in Winnipeg hotel rooms due to flooding. Some parents worry about the impact it will have on their kids’ mental well-being.
Sheri Daniels and her 13-year-old daughter left their home community in the flood-ravaged Interlake Sunday. There was already a foot and a half of water in her house and her driveway was nearly washed out.
She worries now about how the devastation is impacting her daughter.
“My girl, that’s her community and that’s her home and for her to see that happening and just to walk away from it is really, really hard,” she told Global News.
She said there is the added stress of not knowing how long they will be displaced, being away from family and friends and being housed in an unfamiliar place.
“I can definitely see that it’s taking a toll and I’m trying to connect her friends with her,” she said.
“They’re scattered all over in different places in the city as well and finances are not OK for everybody to be able to go out and do something and keep them occupied.”
Dealing with a disaster and being taken away from normal day-to-day life can affect anyone.
However, therapist Carolyn Klassen said bringing back some routines and structure to daily life, even while displaced, can help children.
“It can be helpful for kids to have some routine and some responsibility,” she said
“Let’s get creative. Let’s look at having those routines, the chores, the way that we can make sure that we show each other, that we care about each other, that we’re here for each other, and that we will get through this tough time together.”
Klassen also added the importance of reminding children they are safe and that although they are not at home, you are right there beside them.
“You are there with them, you provide a sense of home for them and as you just do your normal playing and checking in with them and supporting them, that will help them feel safe because they’re with you,” she said.
The Canadian Red Cross is helping house and feed evacuees and said it’s also looking to add some activities, such as arts and crafts, to help pass the time.
“We know it can get really boring really fast so we’re trying to make sure we have things for the kids to do,” spokesperson Jason Small said.
He said they’ve already heard from some children with very simple requests.
“They want bubbles,” he said with a smile. “So we (have) to look to get bubbles so kids can go out and have fun.”
It is unclear when families might be able to return to their community.
In a tweet Wednesday afternoon federal Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said 100 ambassadors have been activated in Peguis through the First Nations Community Response, providing help with sandbagging, grocery delivery and other supports.
She said 25 pumps along with funding for additional pumps, trucks, trailers, light power generators and shelter-in-place supports is also being provided.
“This is a very challenging time for Peguis First Nation and other communities as floods in Manitoba continue,” Hajdu said in the tweet.
“We’ll continue to work with Peguis First Nation to ensure supports are in place now and help with planning for a safe return home.”
–With a file from Shane Gibson