SIOUX VALLEY DAKOTA NATION — A group of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation members still picking up the pieces after last year’s tornado is wondering how $100,000 in federal funds intended for housing repairs was spent.
The capital funds were provided through Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada to help fix homes damaged to varying degrees by a tornado that ripped through the southwestern Manitoba community last summer.
"The $100,000 was for housing repairs related to damages sustained from the tornado," Ellen Funk, a spokeswoman for AANDC’s regional office in Winnipeg, said in an emailed statement to the Sun. "The funds were payable to Sioux Valley Dakota Nation."
Funk added AANDC would have considered providing additional support, but a request for further financial assistance was never made.
In a recent interview with the Sun, Sioux Valley Chief Vince Tacan denied receiving any form of financial assistance following the storm, despite having applied for it.
Tacan said he was told the damage sustained during the tornado wasn’t "substantial enough" to receive any disaster relief assistance for home repairs.
According to a provincial spokesperson, the federal government is responsible for providing emergency services, including recovery services, to First Nations.
"Don’t ask me how government works, but that’s what we were told," Tacan said.
All of the damaged homes have since been fixed, but are once again in need of repairs, he said. "They have been fixed, but some of the roofs have been damaged."
Tacan said insurance money was used to fix the damaged homes, but not every home was covered under insurance.
"I don’t have the exact numbers, but everything was fixed, was put back into place," he said. "As any chief will tell you, anywhere in Canada, we don’t have money to repair houses."
He said they hope to have homes still in need of roof repairs fixed "within the month."
Eighty-six-year-old Albert Taylor, whose uninsured mobile home was hit by last year’s tornado, said his roof leaked all winter and "nothing’s ever been done" to fix it.
"There’s a lot of things that should be happening that’s not happening," he said. "Sioux Valley has got no money."
Taylor said when he approached the chief and council about repairing his roof, he was told there was no money for housing repairs.
Taylor’s daughter, Pamela Bunn, who lives next door to him, was left without hydro for four days following last year’s tornado. Some lights and electrical outlets in her home still don’t work properly and moisture trapped inside a section of damaged roof above the family’s kitchen table is worrisome, she said.
"It’s scary. If it starts a fire, then that’s bad," she said. "They didn’t fix nothing, they just painted over everything."
Tacan said dozens of homes are in rough shape, but they don’t have the budget to fix all of them. The community’s housing department prioritizes which gets fixed first. "We address these things as they come along."
Candace Tacan said her uninsured home was one of the last homes damaged by the tornado to get fixed. Repairs included replacing two garages that were torn off her house.
She said following last year’s tornado, the entire community pitched in to help with the cleanup.
"Some of them took time off work to help with the cleanup, so that was really nice."
Last year’s storm sent two people to hospital and at least five families were evacuated. The storm system, which tracked its way through a large swath of Manitoba’s southwest corner on July 18, 2013, came with 100 km/h winds.
Damage left behind from the tornado also prompted a visit from Premier Greg Selinger.