Flood-ravaged Peguis First Nation working to ensure mothers feel celebrated in challenging times

As a Manitoba First Nation grapples with flooding and evacuations, some members are working to ensure mothers in the community feel celebrated.

A group of volunteers affiliated with Peguis First Nation’s schools, worked throughout the day on Saturday to package gifts of coffee, tea, chocolate, mugs and more, to distribute to 400 mothers who remain in the community.

“It’s for Mother’s Day for the kids to give to their moms because they can’t get out. They’re stranded in their homes and they can’t go out shopping,” said Terina Spence, who works as a receptionist at one of the schools in the First Nation.

“This is something to make the moms feel good and for the kids to feel good too, to lift up their spirits because everybody’s feeling down.”

As of Saturday afternoon, 1,590 evacuees have fled their homes in Peguis, according to Chief Glenn Hudson, with 700 homes evacuated. Hundreds of those homes are surrounded by water.

Carrie Sutherland helped put together gift bags for mothers on Peguis First Nation on Saturday. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

Even people who were evacuated to Winnipeg are helping brighten the days of mothers who stayed behind.

School leaders sent money to the evacuees, who shopped for the gifts in the city and sent them back to Peguis, where volunteers packaged them.

“I think we need our spirits lifted and [to] commemorate all our mothers out there who are fighting the battle with the floodwaters once again … They are the backbone of our community and they will be the ones to propel us through,” said Carrie Sutherland, the education director for the First Nation.

Some of the volunteers say they haven’t left their homes in over a week because of inaccessible roads. They caught rides in boats and trucks to help package gifts.

A house partially submerged in floodwater on the Peguis First Nation on Friday. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Sutherland says community spirit is what will help get them through yet another challenge, in what has been a dark couple of years.

“I’m almost at tears here … We’re all in this together. Peguis people, I know we’ll come through this. We’ve come through it before. We will survive,” she said.

Sutherland says the gift bags are a show of love.

“This is a little package for your child or just for you to boost your spirit and to let you know that we all love you.”

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