Displacement and Flooding of Native people: Documenting Impacts with Little Saskatchewan and Lake St. Martin over a decade

Indigenous community members from Little Saskatchewan and Lake St. Martin First Nations filmed their stories over eight years of displacement in a participatory video process intended to change the colonial, racist narrative towards the First Nation evacuees. Three films were made with community members to cover the time of displacement and the time of early resettlement in Little Saskatchewan and Lake St. Martin from the perspective of all age groups.  In each film, the lived experiences of racism, displacement and poverty are told. The interviewees share dreams of decolonization and rebuilding their dream community in line with Laenui (2000).

Flooding Hope

Flooding Hope: The Lake St. Martin Story (Ballard, Klatt, & Thompson, 2012) covered the emergency evacuation from the 2011 flood. This film documented many injustices. The injustice of the colonial government diverting the flood (Martin, Thompson, Ballard & Linton, 2017) waters of the Assiniboine River to the doorsteps of Native community members through Lake St. Martin.

Wounded Spirit

Wounded Spirit: Forced Evacuation of Little Saskatchewan First Nation (Ballard, Klatt, Martin, & Thompson, 2016) documented the health impacts felt by Elders of the flood and displacement. Prolonged displacement and family separation increased health risks due to little control over the housing and food arrangements, leading to mental and physical challenges. The lack of services (counselling, housing, traditional food, etc.) to deal with many crises and shortfalls had many people falling through the cracks.

Flood Children

The 2011 superflood diversion to Lake St. Martin turned a vibrant community into a ghost town. Only a few people stayed in Little Saskatchewan First Nation after the flood. Most community members were displaced for the eight years it took to reach a settlement with the government. Whether displaced or not, all the youth mourn the loss of their community, lives, childhood and homes. The stories from the youth of homelessness, overcrowding, suicides and drugs will break your heart. The youth who left as children are now returning with their own children, with the school, sports and nature providing an anchor in the storm.