‘Tribal Dysfunction Costs Manitoba Taxpayers’

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This story continues without a resolution, from a combination of government incompetence and cowardice. As a result, the law is not being enforced against this aboriginal group, and the rest of Manitobans are paying for this unequal application of the law…

In 1996, an armed rebellion (including members of the ‘Manitoba Warriors’ criminal gang) which resulted in the arson of 3 homes (including the Chief’s), resulted in the eviction of 350 Band members from what was then called the Waterhen reserve in Manitoba. 

The dispute revolved around the competition for power between two dominant families {“Local legend has it that the bad blood between the Catcheway and Nepinak families dates back over 100 years.”}. Since then, the rebels have demanded their own reserve but the federal government insists that new land for it must be subtracted from the original reserve. The Waterhen (now Skownan) ‘First Nation’ refuses to sanction the changes, so the rebels have been housed since 1996 by ‘Manitoba Housing’, and have refused to pay rent for 21 years… 

“‘Indigenous’ {‘descendants of Siberian settler’} families who face eviction from ‘Manitoba Housing’ units in Portage la Prairie…have vowed to move onto the legislature lawn when they lose their homes.

They’ve been living in Manitoba Housing in Portage since 1996, but have never paid rent. The province says they owe more than $1.2 million

“‘Manitoba Housing’ has been trying to work out the dispute, even offering in 2011 to waive rent owed since 1996 if the families agreed to pay rent from that point… The families have always refused to pay.

“They’ve been living in ‘Manitoba Housing’ in Portage since they were forcibly removed from Waterhen ‘First Nation’ {‘Siberian settler community’} in 1996 after repeatedly protesting against the Chief and Band Council of the day, resident Donna Gabriel said.
{Waterhen is now known as Skownan ‘First Nation’ — a ‘nation’ of 1,512 people.}

“They have not paid any rent in Portage and owe the province more than $1.2 million, said Andrea Slobodian, press secretary to Families Minister Scott Fielding.

“Slobodian said ‘Manitoba Housing’s position is,

“A handful of tenants refusing to pay rent for 20 years is not fair for the thousands of other tenants of Manitoba Housing who do pay rent.”
{Then why has it taken 20 years???}

“Slobodian said ‘Manitoba Housing’ has been handling the situation, which has involved the courts and residential tenancies commission in recent years. She said Ottawa has refused for decades to provide housing for the families, because they were no longer living on a reserve.

“The dispute finally reached the Manitoba Court of Appeal, which ruled in late June in favour of ‘Manitoba Housing’. Even then, ‘Manitoba Housing’ gave the residents a grace period to find other housing, she said.

“Gabriel said ‘Manitoba Housing’ will be evicting 18 families, including children, the elderly, and disabled persons.

“We’re going to be homeless,” Gabriel said during a rally at the legislature Thursday afternoon. “The sheriffs told us we have to move out or they’ll lock us out Monday.”

“After Monday, we’re going to have a sit-in here. We’ve got to go somewhere,” Gabriel said.

“Gabriel agreed the families have never paid rent for their accommodation.

“The (provincial) government started an eviction process since 2010,” she said. “Before that, they never bothered with us, that the rent wasn’t paid.”

“Gabriel said when the families were removed from Waterhen, they moved onto the legislature lawn, and that’s where they’ll live…unless the province reverses its decision.”

–‘Manitoba Housing evicting 18 families who haven’t paid rent since 1996’,
Nick Martin, Winnipeg Free Press, 08/10/2017

FEATURE Image: Donna Gabriel and fellow evictees.
(JOHN WOODS: WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

COMMENT: “Some one down at Manitoba Housing should have their ass kicked for letting this go on for 20+ years. These people are thumbing their noses at the generosity of the taxpayer with this ridiculous attitude of entitlement they have developed. Time to make everyone pay their share like the taxpayers are “forced” to — no more exceptions.”
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“This is truly unbelievable !!! The government should NOT forgive the debt that’s owed.”
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“After reading the background, maybe the province should be sending the bill to the feds. It would be interesting to find out if the reserve has been funded including these people or excluding them from the population. If they’ve been included in the numbers but not provided for, maybe the feds can take it out of whoever’s pockets it lined. If they have been excluded, maybe whatever they would’ve received should go to the province to cover costs, unless it somehow went to them directly — in which case, there’s a lot of explaining to do.”
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
“As shameless as these people are, the sheer hubris and feigned indignance is hilarious. Still, there will be people who will defend these folks while attacking Manitoba Housing, the Manitoba government and anyone who speaks poorly of the freeloaders.”
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
“Simply unbelievable — a free ride for twenty years and they have the unmitigated gall to complain — man, talk about entitlement!!!”
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
“This leaves me speechless. An absolute slap in the face to hard-working people who struggle to pay their rent. Evict them all and if they move to the Legislative Grounds, charge them with trespassing.”
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
“But they will claim that it’s their land stolen by the white man when these lands were ceded under Treaty #1!!! This is enough!!! What is wrong with a system that panders to a minority group that is supported by the non-indigenous majority group who pay the taxes?!!”

https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/manitoba-housing-evicting-18-families-who-havent-paid-rent-since-1996-439737863.html

Sheriffs issued eviction notices, Manitoba Housing homes. (Acelynn Catcheway)

“A group of 18 families facing eviction by Manitoba Housing have been given a little more time to leave.

“The Manitoba government has confirmed it’s allowing Portage la Prairie residents who have been living rent-free until at least Sept. 7 to leave the social housing village where they have been residing since 1996.

“That’s when the group will get the meeting they demanded with ‘Indigenous’ and Northern Affairs Canada after protesting their eviction…

“Waterhen ‘First Nation’, now called Skownan ‘First Nation’, is about 290 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg…”

–‘Families facing eviction by Manitoba Housing get extension’,
Austin Grabish, CBC News, Aug. 28, 2017

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/waterhen-manitoba-housing-eviction-extension-1.4265565

Donna Gabriel (Photo by Mike Blume)

“Residents’ organizer Donna Gabriel said Monday that the families are unhappy with news coverage — the story is not that they haven’t paid rent, or that some of them also receive social assistance, she said from Portage la Prairie.

“Our people are very upset about what you’re writing,” Gabriel said…

“Gabriel said that the province promised the residents they’d get free housing back in 1996, when they were removed forcibly from Waterhen — now known as Skownan ‘First Nation’ — after protesting against the Chief and Band Council of the day. That’s the story, she said. {The province has no legal responsibility for these wards of the federal government…}

“It’s not us who’s breached,” said Gabriel. “Talk to the Manitoba government.”

“Gabriel said she was surprised to read in Saturday’s ‘Free Press’ that ‘Indigenous’ and Northern Affairs Canada Minister Carolyn Bennett has suggested creating a new reserve for the families.

“Well, of course, that’s what we’ve been demanding the last 20 years. We’re entitled to land, as treaty people,” she said. “I haven’t heard anything yet (from Bennett).”
{You left the reserve. THAT was your ‘Treaty entitlement’ land…}

Families Minister Scott Fielding said in an interview Monday that he has 1,000 people on a ‘Manitoba Housing’ waiting list who are all prepared to pay rent.

“There has been fairness {???} over a 20-year period,” he said. “We’re going to abide by the court decision.”

“The province has been more than patient for many years, and now it’s in the hands of the sheriff, Fielding said. He estimates the 18 families owe more than $1.2 million in rent.

“Fielding said that it’s up to Ottawa to decide if it will pay the housing costs of ‘First Nations’ residents who are no longer living on the reserve.

“Meanwhile, Winnipeg Centre ‘Liberal’ {aboriginal} MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette weighed into the fray while at an unrelated event Monday.

“You have to go back to whatever the original ‘injustice’ was. Are they ‘refugees’ in their own land?” Ouellette said in an interview…
{What a fool…}

“The Chief and Band Council involved in the 1996 dispute are long gone.

“Skownan Chief Cameron Catcheway declined to be interviewed Monday.

“I’m not going to answer nothing right now,”

he said from the community about 108 kilometres northeast of Dauphin.

“I’d rather talk to the people in Portage, if they have the courage to give me a call,” Catcheway said.

“And if Ouellette has something to say, he can call Skownan, said Catcheway.

“The final action and its timing are up to the Sheriff’s department, said Fielding, whose staff referred any inquiries about evictions to the Sheriff’s department.

“It in turn referred inquiries to ‘Manitoba Justice’, which said the sheriff will choose when to start evictions.”

–‘Officers have until Aug. 28 to evict Manitoba Housing families in Portage’,
Nick Martin, Winnipeg Free Press, 08/14/2017

https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/officers-have-until-aug-28-to-evict-manitoba-housing-families-in-portage-440392713.html

Waterhen, Manitoba housing protest. (Austin Grabish–CBC)

From 2011:
“The members have not been paying rent for the houses for about 14 years, Gabriel said. She said this was based on an agreement the members made with then-Minister of aboriginal affairs for Manitoba David Newman in 1998.

“We acted on a good faith basis for us to pay reasonable rent and in turn, a relocation process to take place and it was going great for about a year,” Gabriel said. “But for some reason, the Manitoba government stalled and they never gave us any reasons to say why they suddenly just tossed the relocation process.”

“Once the relocation process stalled, she said, the Band members saw that as a break in their agreement with the province, which is why the group stopped paying rent.

“A 1998 letter from Newman states that in return for the Waterhen members paying reasonable rent, the provincial government would work with the Band members in their efforts to form a new reserve.

“A procedure was started, called “The Process to Develop a Working Plan that will Identify Options for the Relocation of Waterhen ‘First Nation’ Band – Portage” and meetings were held from December 1998 to July 1999, with a now-defunct company called ‘Phaze Studios Inc.’ facilitating the meetings between the province and the Waterhen Band members.

“In those meetings, the Band members decided they wanted a new reserve set up and had picked a location near the Norquay Colony, and they wanted to have on-reserve status again. It was also noted in meeting minutes that to do that, the federal government would have to be involved.

“The eviction order from ‘Manitoba Housing’ is another bump in the road for the Band members, who Gabriel said were forced off the Waterhen ‘First Nation’, now named the Skownan ‘First Nation’, about 110 kilometres northeast of Dauphin on the bank of Waterhen Lake, back in 1996.

Fifteen years ago, approximately 350 members of Waterhen ‘First Nation’ were legally evicted by the provincial and federal government and transferred to Manitoba Housing units in Portage la Prairie after protesting against then-chief Harvey Nepinak, claiming the Band’s managers were mishandling their money.

While some Band members had been convicted in Manitoba courts for criminal activity relating to a blockade that was set up near the reserve, those convictions were overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada.
{https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/1796/index.do }

“The ‘Manitoba Housing’ eviction notices are just the latest blow to the Band members, Gabriel said, who feel their basic human rights have been violated by the eviction from the then-Waterhen ‘First Nation’.

“Where are we going to go?” Gabriel said Wednesday. “We’re without a land base.”
{So are most Canadians. Get a job…}

A spokesman for ‘Manitoba Housing’ said that organization has always taken the position that the Waterhen members were required to pay rent and they’ve all signed leases.

“In July 2010, the spokesman said via email, ‘Manitoba Housing’ put forward a proposal to the Waterhen tenants at Zelana, located in the city’s northeast end, to address rent arrears and provide a payment plan to begin paying for damages incurred over the years…

As for the “Process to Develop a Working Plan” for the Waterhen band members that was abruptly stopped in July 1999, provincial spokesman Matt Williamson said the provincial government, even after that process stopped in July 1999, continued to try and work with the Band members and the federal government, as the Band members indicated they wanted to start a new reserve.

“Matters relating to on-reserve aboriginals usually fall to the federal government; however, an Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) spokesman said the federal government has already explained its situation to the Waterhen Band members.

“We are aware that some members from Skownan that are in Portage la Prairie have expressed a desire for a new reserve,” said Jeff Solmundson, communications officer for INAC in Winnipeg. “We have given them information about it — our policies — and where it stands now is, any decision involving establishment of a new reserve would have to have the consent of Skownan’s chief and council. And it would involve a transfer of their existing reserve land.”

That means, the current Skownan Chief and council would have to agree to have the Skownan ‘First Nation’ shrink in size and have the amount of land it shrinks by declared a reserve elsewhere for the displaced Waterhen members.

“Solmundson said that INAC has explained this policy to the Waterhen group in Portage over the past several years.”

–‘Waterhen members on the verge of being displaced again’,
Rob Swystun, The Daily Graphic, January 28, 2011

http://www.portagedailygraphic.com/2011/01/26/waterhen-members-on-the-verge-of-being-displaced-again

Waterhen ‘First Nation’ Conflict (RED POWER MEDIA)

The Background — From 1996:
“An RCMP investigation unit is on the Waterhen ‘First Nation’, piecing together the events of a month-long armed standoff that displaced 300 residents from their homes.

“Police are looking into reports of criminal activities believed to have been committed by rebel members of the Waterhen ‘First Nation’. The crimes include vandalism, looting and arson. At least three houses were burned to the ground, including the residence of Chief Harvey Nepinak.

“A temporary RCMP detachment will be set up on the reserve for the next three weeks to a month, said RCMP Cpl. Randy Daley.

“We have a long investigation to do here into all the activities that have been going on. We want to make sure that people can get back to their lives as quickly as possible.”

“The standoff ended on May 19, when police on morning patrol noticed that the barricade, usually defended by armed rebels, was unmanned. They seized the opportunity to secure the 20-metre-long structure, built with old cars, tractors and wagons. The 100-man tactical unit then moved cautiously into the community, but met little resistance. No shots were fired and no injuries were reported.

“By evening, the rebels, along with their leader Gordon Catcheway, had been taken into custody. Among those arrested were members of the ‘Winnipeg Warriors’, an aboriginal street gang with a reputation for violence and criminal activity.

“The sudden end to the standoff came at a time when tensions between reserve dissidents and police had escalated. Two days earlier, Catcheway backed away from a tentative agreement to end the standoff. That same evening, the Chief’s house was set ablaze, followed by police cutting off phone service.

“Police also fired flares toward the barricade and sounded sirens for a couple of hours overnight…

“The standoff began April 14, when opponents of Chief Nepinak erected the barricade and banished the Chief and his supporters from the community. The rebels demanded a separate reserve of their own, accusing Nepinak of corruption and intimidation. The Chief has always denied the charges…

“Catcheway has been trying unsuccessfully to remove Nepinak from office for many years. He lost the last two elections to the Chief, the most recent one held in November, 1995.

Local legend has it that the bad blood between the Catcheway and Nepinak families dates back over 100 years.

“Approximately 300 Band members spent the duration of the standoff in the nearby community of Dauphin.

“A variety of prominent people met with the rebels during the month, hoping to negotiate an end to the conflict. They included an associate chief provincial court judge, two MLAs, a Pentecostal minister, a reserve Elder and the Mayor of a nearby community.”

–‘Arrest of rebels ends month-long standoff’,
Michael Smith, Windspeaker — Volume:14, Issue:2 — 1996

http://www.ammsa.com/node/11710

VIDEO (at bottom of article):
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/waterhen-manitoba-housing-eviction-extension-1.4265565

‘Windspeaker’ Editorial:
“…Neither do the armed rebels at Waterhen have a legitimate cause. They have contested — and lost — a number of Band elections. They do not have the support of the community, most of which ran away when they seized power.

When they claim to be poor, hard-done-by, discriminated-against victims, it’s time for the community — a community that has had the strength to support Oka and Wounded Knee — to stand up and say “NO”.

Not every Native person behind a barricade has a legitimate reason to be there. Some of them are simply criminals. They should be dealt with as such, and they should be dealt with harshly.

And, while it’s worthy to support a cause, we have to be careful of what we support. Each cause must be judged on its own merits and, if possible, away from the rosy glow of romanticism given to the underdogs. Legitimate causes are damaged by the illegitimate actions of others.

“Really oppressed people don’t need this kind of ally. Native people with real problems must say strongly, clearly:

“Get off our side!”.

–‘Spoiling for a fight’,
Windspeaker, Volume:14, Issue:2, Year:1996, Page 6

http://www.ammsa.com/publications/windspeaker/spoiling-fight-2

Waterhen Evictees (Source: Beth Macdonell)

The rebels’ version of events:
“In December, 1992, some residents of the Waterhen reserve, the Gabriels among them, demanded more financial accountability from their leaders, who had cloaked their dealings in a blanket of secrecy. The following year, the dissidents elected a majority of councillors to the Band’s government who promised to address these issues. Arthur Gabriel, who had never before served on the Band council, was one of them.

“Harvey Nepinak was re-elected as Chief, but he refused to work with the new quorum. It took a year and a half, but the council majority finally got what it wanted. On March 23, 1994, the Regional Director of federal Department of Indian and Northern Development Canada (DIAND) convened a meeting of the Chief and council, where a Band council resolution calling for an independent audit of the Waterhen Band passed. The department then appointed a third-party manager for the band.

“That should have ended the issue. But DIAND refused to provide the quorum with details of the Band’s funding agreements and the Chief’s supporters then broke into and occupied the Band office. The RCMP were called to assist, but did nothing. They stated:

“…Who has the authority of the Band has to be determined by DIAND.”

“In April, 1994, at its own expense, the council quorum obtained a court order against the Chief and his supporters and removed the Band’s records. A month later, the group obtained another order appointing them the legitimate representatives of the Band. Served with these documents, DIAND’s lawyer repeated that the department took no position in the Band’s internal matters, the same response it had made for years to the many letters and petitions from Band members demanding accountability.

“This official neutrality had devastating consequences.

“On or about May 17, 1994, frustrated by official disregard for court orders, the quorum attempted to enter the Band office and was forced away by the Chief’s supporters, who set up barricades. The councillors returned to court and obtained an order to have the barricades removed. They came down, but the third-party manager cut off all payments for the dissidents, including their honorariums. He refused to work with, or even meet with, the quorum unless the Chief was present, and refused to assist them in preparing the mandated audit.

“Finally, in November, 1995, DIAND Minister approved a new Band election. The quorum and their supporters were told “that it is going to be payback time” and were harassed and threatened at the polls. Nepinak and his supporters were voted back into power. By February, 1996, all control of funding had been returned to the Chief.

“But the genie was out of the bottle. During their brief period of control, the quorum had distributed the Band’s books among their supporters, whom they tersely dubbed “the people”. In February, 1996, Chief Nepinak obtained a court injunction ordering the council quorum and unnamed “supporters” to return the books. Nepinak said he could not do Band business without them.

“Frustrated by his opponents’ refusal to staunch the flow of information, the Chief adopted new tactics. Early in April, 1996, with the assistance of the RCMP, the Chief removed his supporters from the reserve, leaving the rest of the Band members to fend for themselves. At Band {ultimately taxpayer} expense, the Chief’s group stayed in paid lodging in and around Dauphin, Manitoba. The crisis reached a point of no return on April 24 when the Chief obtained an interlocutory court injunction order against the dissidents, and against unnamed members of a notorious aboriginal gang, the ‘Manitoba Warriors’, whose role in the affair remains murky to this day.

“The RCMP barricaded entrances to the Waterhen ‘First Nation’, which is mostly surrounded by water. Police in airboats patrolled the reserve, at times setting off explosives and firing tear gas. The RCMP and the members of the force’s ‘Emergency Response Team’ (ERT) entered the reserve at night, and were observed flat on the ground crawling about. Helicopters roamed overhead, with bright spotlights illuminating the reserve sky…The reserve was under siege.

“Over the weeks before the Nepinak faction decamped and the barricades went up, violence against the dissidents had been growing, with the Chief’s supporters brandishing guns and threatening to declare war. Verbal and physical assaults occurred and tires were slashed. The Gabriels and their associates insist that they did not respond in kind. Even after the barricades went up, they limited their protests to picketing with posters calling for justice and protesting Band corruption…

“But what appeared to be a well-organized series of events made quorum supporters look like criminals. The acts ranged from petty vandalism to serious acts like arson. Two houses, including the one assigned to the Chief, burned to the ground. The dissidents warned each other not to go near the burning homes, for fear they could be blamed.

“Who did it? Today the Gabriels and their friends wonder if these acts were not in fact the work of the ‘Manitoba Warriors’. They had observed known members of the gang entering and exiting the barricades with impunity at all hours of the day and night, apparently with the knowledge and consent of the authorities. Chief Nepinak held court for the media outside the barricades and attributed the criminal acts to his opponents.

“Subsequent events are forever seared in the memories of the dissidents. In the early morning hours of May 19, the RCMP and the ERT, armed with machine guns, stun grenades and vicious attack dogs, stormed the reserve and terrorized the residents. They invoked Chief Nepinak’s interlocutory order and removed everyone, including women, children, elders and youth, from the reserve at gunpoint.

“Heavily-armed men kicked open doors of sleeping residents and ordered women, children and adults to drop to the floor, with automatic weapons pointed at their heads… Witnesses say the police had no pity, even though the people showed no resistance. They were handcuffed, with some loaded into waiting police vehicles and others into buses. The children were apprehended by a native child care agency chaired by none other than Chief Nepinak. Their parents were taken to jail.

“Two days later, the RCMP allowed Chief Nepinak and his supporters to return to Waterhen. An orgy of destruction ensued. Two more houses were torched, this time ones belonging to quorum supporters, and many others looted and ransacked. Vehicles belonging to dissidents were pushed into water-filled ditches. In spite of a continuous, 24-hour police presence on the Waterhen that lasted for 30 days after the Chief’s faction was restored, the RCMP made no arrests.

Of the people dragged from the Waterhen reserve, thirty-five people were charged and many convicted of mischief, intimidation and various related charges. They couldn’t afford lawyers and lacked any knowledge of court processes, but appealed the convictions, some all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada. None of the convictions stuck. Most of them, however, were never allowed to return to the reserve. That included the Gabriels, who supplied most of the information for this report, backed up by police notes and videotapes that by law have to be shared with court defendants.

“The Gabriels’ ranch operation, and another belonging to Gilbert Catcheway, were totally dissolved and the assets turned over to an organization called the ‘Tribal Wi-Chi-Way-Win Farm Credit Corporation’, one of whose directors was, guess who, Chief Nepinak. The erstwhile entrepreneurs asked the RCMP to intervene in this confiscation, but they were advised that it was a civil, not a criminal matter.

“In an effort to recover their assets, they have been in and out of the courts for eight long years, with no end yet in sight. As with so many native Canadians who have had their possessions seized, they are locked into a series of revolving courtroom doors. Just to pay their legal bills, the Gabriels must continually raise funds among those aboriginals sympathetic to their plight.

“The courts are reluctant to administer common sense remedies because a long history of judgements says the Chief’s powers are not limited by Canadian common law {Another example of Race Based Law}. Although their case seems hopeless, for the Gabriels the courts are their only alternative. But even if they eventually receive justice, their dreams of financial independence are gone. And how do you replace the pride in the ranch you built, the loss of your home and all your possessions?

“Canada’s ‘First Nations’ {‘Siberian settler communities’} hold many budding entrepreneurs. But who would be foolish enough to invest their savings and sweat equity in a venture when, at the whim of Band politics, you could lose everything? For Indian reserves fraught with poverty and welfare dependence, the plight of the Gabriels serves as an object lesson. Hard work may or may not be rewarded. So, why bother? Not to colour all ‘First Nations’ with the same brush; many respectable leaders do very well for their people. Sadly, under the current system, they are in a minority.

“Harvey Nepinak is no longer Chief, but is now employed by the ‘West Regional Tribal Council’ based in Dauphin, Manitoba. The Waterhen’s people are forever divided, a tragedy that could easily have been avoided had Chief Nepinak been accountable and opened the Band’s books to reserve members, or had DIAND exercised its authority to clean up the Band’s finances when the majority quorum on its council repeatedly requested help…”

–‘A Reserve Torn Apart (Unabridged Version)’,
Frontier Centre for Public Policy, July 13, 2005

https://fcpp.org/2005/07/13/a-reserve-torn-apart-unabridged-version/

http://www.usask.ca/nativelaw/factums/view.php?id=42

Waterhen, 1996 (CBC)

‘Letter to the Editor’:
“In 1996, with helicopters hovering in the sky and shining bright spotlights on the ground, the RCMP barricaded all entrances into Waterhen Reserve; then, armed with machine guns, stun grenades and…attack dogs, they stormed the reserve, setting off explosives and firing tear gas as they rounded up and evicted approximately 350 members of Waterhen ‘First Nation’ on orders of the provincial and federal government, and transferred them to ‘Manitoba Housing’ units in Portage la Prairie.

“Their crime was protesting against then-chief Harvey Nepinak, claiming the Band’s managers were mishandling their money. Nepinak and his followers had ‘abandoned’ the reserve and were staying in lodging around Dauphin, paid for with reserve funds.

“The Waterhen group entered an agreement in 1998 with then-minister of aboriginal affairs for Manitoba David Newman, with the goal of setting-up a new reserve for them near the Norquay Colony. Development of that plan was abruptly stopped in July, 1999 by the provincial government because it had ‘determined’ {‘been told by the federal government that’} the current Skownan ‘First Nation’ (formerly Waterhen) chief and council would have to agree to have the Skownan ‘First Nation’ shrink in size, and have the amount of land it shrinks by declared a reserve elsewhere for the displaced Waterhen members.

“At this time, Waterhen members ceased paying rent for the housing they were forced into, in hopes of bringing the government back to the negotiating table.”
{And when this didn’t work, they simply continued to pay no rent…}

https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/manitoba-housing-evicting-18-families-who-havent-paid-rent-since-1996-439737863.html

See also:
The gangs of Winnipeg{December 15, 2013}:
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