AMC and Canadian Red Cross update on evacuations due to forest fires in Manitoba First Nations

May 24, 2018

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba


May 24, 2018 

 Treaty One Territory, MB _ The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs held an emergency meeting this morning with the Canadian Red Cross to discuss the current fire situation in First Nations throughout the province. 

“The AMC is concerned about the health and safety of people living in our First Nations,” said Grand Chief Arlen Dumas. “Our First Nations citizens live under the threat of evacuation every summer and it is these same people who work hard to make sure our people get to safety with the help of staff and volunteers at the Red Cross, the Canadian Armed Forces, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, health care workers, paramedics, and hundreds of firefighters from Manitoba and Ontario. We would like to extend our gratitude to the First Nations emergency response workers along with the other organizations who are working together to help ensure the safety of First Nations babies, children, adults, and seniors.” 

States of emergency are in effect for the following: 

  • Little Grand Rapids First Nation 
  • Pauingassi First Nation 
  • Sapotaweyak Cree Nation

Community members have been evacuated to Brandon, Swan River, The Pas, and Winnipeg. 

The entire community of Sapotaweyak Cree Nation has been evacuated. Evacuations are still underway for Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi First Nation. Evacuations are being completed by helicopter, airplane, military aircraft, bus, and personal vehicles. 

Over 100 citizens of Kinonjeoshtegon First Nation had been evacuated but that evacuation order was lifted May 23rd. Kinonjeoshtegon citizens will begin returning home today. 

The Canadian Red Cross and the Canadian Armed Forces worked together yesterday to support the rescue mission from Little Grand Rapids. After 60 people had been evacuated in the evening of May 22, flights were not able to land in the community due to heavy smoke in the early morning. Starting around 10:30 a.m., flights starting landing in Little Grand Rapids. In total, 34 commercial aircraft, coordinated by the Red Cross, took people to Winnipeg. 


As well, some people were flown to Red Lake, Ont. by aircraft and Canadian Forces Chinook helicopter. From there, people were flown to Winnipeg on a military Hercules airplane. Flights continue today and the Red Cross is planning for the evacuation to be completed by the end of today. 

“The Red Cross is here to support the most vulnerable people,” said Shawn Feely, Vice President of the Canadian Red Cross for Manitoba and Nunavut. “We have teams of volunteers and staff working around the clock to ensure people are safely evacuated from these communities and that they have the necessities of life, such as food and lodging, once they are away from their homes.” 

“We will continue to monitor this situation and will work closely with the First Nations emergency response workers in the communities and the Canadian Red Cross to ensure all citizens are safely evacuated,” said Grand Chief Dumas. 

About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs 

The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in Manitoba accounting for approximately 12 per cent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho (Cree), Oji-Cree, Dene and Dakota people and traditions. 

About the Canadian Red Cross The Canadian Red Cross mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world. The Canadian Red Cross Society is part of the largest humanitarian network in the world, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. This network includes the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation) and 190 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies dedicated to improving the situation of the most vulnerable throughout the world. 

For more information contact: 

Kim Wheeler
Media Relations
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
Cell: 204.391.5830
Office: 204.987.4132

Jason Small
Manager of Communications
Canadian Red Cross
Cell: 204.223.9753