No funds were provided through any disaster assistance program to Sioux Valley Dakota Nation following last summer’s tornado.
Instead, Chief Vince Tacan said the community used its own capital to fund more than $120,000 in housing repairs.
Following a Brandon Sun story and editorial on the issue earlier this month, Tacan stopped by the Sun office to address questions raised by a group of residents regarding federal funds provided after the tornado.
"It’s frustrating for me because there’s no help," he said. "There was never, ever any disaster assistance ... there was never any federal money to fix the houses ... it’s all capital."
Tacan said they never applied for any form of disaster assistance relief following last July’s tornado — which ripped through the community and damaged several homes — because a provincial spokesperson told him the damage wasn’t "substantial enough to qualify."
"But I wasn’t content to leave it there," Tacan said, adding he was later advised the "quickest way" to repair damaged homes was to use the community’s own capital funds.
According to a transactions list Tacan provided, the community spent $121,493.36 on repairing damaged homes, some of which weren’t insured. A big chunk of the money — $65,750.10, to be exact — was earmarked to repair uninsured band units and an additional $49,255.16 was spent on various housing repairs.
Initially, a spokeswoman with Aboriginal and Northern Development Canada told the Sun via email the First Nations community received $100,000 in August 2013 "for housing repairs related to damages sustained from the tornado."
However, the spokeswoman yesterday clarified the capital funds provided were "regular funding available" to Sioux Valley.
"Funding was not provided through emergency programs," the statement reads. "AANDC officials will be contacting Chief Tacan directly with respect to his concerns related to damage caused by last summer’s tornado."
Tacan said their community receives $712,000 annually in capital from the federal government for general operations.
"And everything that goes wrong on the reserve, I have to fix it with that pot of money," he said. "At the end of the day, I have nothing. Very little to fix windows, doors, anything left over."
Tacan told the Sun he has been seeking reimbursement from AANDC since last year’s tornado, but has yet to receive anything.
"The plan I had for capital to fix other houses, that got put off for a year because I’m redirecting that to this," Tacan said.
"It’s money that I could have used somewhere else."
According to the Government of Canada website, band support and capital management branches within each region co-ordinate, control and review funding requests from First Nations. They also require records and documentation of where the money was spent afterwards.