With school closed and evacuations forced by flooding, Peguis’ parents are making the most of life in Limbo


Beverley Sumner, 32, lives in a hotel room in Winnipeg with her three children after fleeing Peguis First Nation due to rising waters.

The First Nation family from Manitoba’s Interlake region had less than half an hour to grab everything they needed, before hopping on an evacuation bus to Winnipeg this week.

“It was actually shocking…to see all the houses surrounded by so much water,” she said. “We couldn’t even see the roads. … We never really saw it like that, ever.”

Peguis declared a state of emergency last week and issued an evacuation order over the weekend as flooding from the Fisher River washed away roads and ruptured levees.

Sumner and his family are among more than 1,300 people who have already left the community. With no transportation and no idea when they’ll be able to return, Sumner concentrates on keeping his kids busy.

“They were a little stressed the first two nights,” she said, adding that they were starting to settle down.

The family of four passes the time with walks, iPad games and swims in the hotel pool. Sumner says some school supplies are available, but she hasn’t heard what will happen with the rest of the school year.

Peguis Central School, which runs K-12, is closed because all three access roads are under water, a school board member told CBC News.

Sumner hopes the evacuees will be able to return home in a few weeks, but there is no certainty.

“It’s a bit difficult because we’re not sure when or how it will be when we come back, or if there’s anything to come back to,” she said.

Across town, Myles Spence, 40, also works to keep his six children busy.

“For my kids, it’s fine for them to come into town and stuff, but it’s stressful,” Spence said.

“It’s hard being uprooted from home and all, but we’re making the most of it.”

Myles Spence and his family arrived in Winnipeg on Sunday from the Peguis First Nation. (Submitted by Myles Spence)

His family arrived in Winnipeg on Sunday evening after floodwaters began to inundate the road leading to their home.

The family was housed in a hotel in Winnipeg, in two rooms on different floors. Three of the children stay with him and the other three stay with his partner.

“The pool has been closed since we got here, so it’s a little depressing for them…but it’s sunny now, so we’ll probably take them to the park.”

The Red Cross is providing support to more than 1,300 flood evacuees from Peguis First Nation. The relief organization is coordinating hotels and meals for evacuees staying at hotels in Winnipeg, Selkirk, Gimli and Brandon, or with friends and family, a spokesperson said.

The Red Cross is working to set up recreational activities for children and will have more to say soon, the spokesperson said.

As for the school, Spence said after two years of pandemic learning, it’s just another disruption they’re rolling with.

His goal is simply to get home.

“We’re probably going to take a break for a while…deal with this flooding situation,” he said. “I hope we can go home soon.”