Lake St. Martin First Nation Community Members’ Experiences of Induced Displacement: “We’re like refugees”


  • Shirley Thompson University of Manitoba
  • Myrle Ballard University of Manitoba
  • Donna Martin University of Manitoba



Lake St. Martin, First Nation, Manitoba, Canada, Indigenous communities, environmental displacement, developmental displacement, sustainable livelihoods, policy barriers, racism, flood


In 2011, a massive flood occurred in the Canadian province of Manitoba, and provincial government officials decided to divert water to Lake St. Martin and First Nation land to protect urban, cottage, and agricultural properties. As a result of this artificial flood, all community members were evacuated, with infrastructures and housing at Lake St. Martin First Nation permanently destroyed. Three years later, 1,064 Lake St. Martin First Nation members reside in urban hotels and other temporary residences. Data from participatory videography and community workshops were analyzed using the sustainable livelihoods framework. Environmentally and developmentally induced displacement transformed an entire First Nation community into refugees in their homeland. Jurisdictional issues and racism prevented provisioning of services to meet their basic needs, help rebuild their lives, and relocate their community. Inclusive evacuation, relocation, and water-management policies and procedures are recommended.


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How to Cite

Thompson, S., Ballard, M., & Martin, D. (2014). Lake St. Martin First Nation Community Members’ Experiences of Induced Displacement: “We’re like refugees”. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 29(2), 75–86.

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