Chief April Martel of the K’atlodeeche First Nation says she was denied entry to the Town of Hay River on May 13 despite trying to pick up goods and supplies to help clean up her reserve.
The municipality has a checkpoint at the highway junction on Highway 2 but Martel was livid in not being able to gain access when she reached the Hub on Friday afternoon.
“We need supplies for the reserve and to get stuff in the Town of Hay River and we have to go back and forth,” Martel explained, noting that she has a contingent of about 10 volunteers helping.
Some members are in hotels in town but most of everyone else from KFN has evacuated to outlying communities.
“Volunteers are going back and forth to shower to eat and we’re cleaning up as much as we can and then they do this to my people?” she said in frustration.
Martel said she provided a list of people who need to get into the town on both Friday morning and then again by text in the afternoon to Mayor Kandis Jameson.
But the Chief said she shouldn’t even be denied at all.
“I’m so upset right now and I’m so mad,” she said pointing out that the community was responsible for evacuating its own residents and didn’t have the assistance of RCMP officers who were denying her entry to the municipality.
The Hub was unable to get a response from Jameson as to why KFN members would be kept out when a message was left on Friday afternoon.
However the mayor said earlier in the day that she was under quite a bit of stress keeping people from entering because the water and sewer system is under incredible strain and backed up due to flooding.
“Anybody that is here now is taxing the system hugely,” she said. “So now, all I’m trying to do is mitigate more damage.
“We need people to remain where they are and be patient with us. Give us 48 hours to make sure this community is safe before anybody can come back. I’m trying to get people to understand that the sewer system is unreal.”
The municipality reiterated that point in its daily advisory on Friday stating that only recovery workers are allowed into the community and that the town is strictly keeping anybody else out.
“Several areas of the Town are currently inaccessible, and water and sewer services are compromised,” the advisory states. “Boil water order is still in effect.
“It is critical that residents understand that their presence here is detrimental to our recovery effort. “The sewer infrastructure system is interconnected, and wastewater will impact other zones.”