In 2011, 2000 First Nation people were forced from their homes after artificially diverted flood water swamped their communities to save the city of Winnipeg and other major urban centers.
Most of the evacuees, the majority from Lake St.Martin and Little Saskatchewan First Nations, checked into Winnipeg hotels, assuming they would return to their homes within a couple of weeks.
Fast forward almost three years later. Evacuees are still stranded and still drowning as the powerless pawns in a political firestorm between the First Nation bands, the Manitoba Association of Native Firefighters, hotel owners and the federal and provincial governments.
Today, the evacuees continue to live away from home and away from their way of life on the reserve. Some, unable to bear the harsh realities of poverty in the city, have chosen to return to their condemned homes on contaminated reserves.
Families have been disrupted and weakened by separation, a rise in substance abuse, and suicide. Public support of these displaced families is almost nonexistent. Plans for rebuilding seem to be at a standstill. All the while, the only thing people can do is wait…
“Treading Water” is a deeply intimate look at the unexpected, untold story of the real-life evacuees behind the national headlines of the 2011 Manitoba flood.