'Very excited to go home': Evacuated First Nations returning weeks after fire knocks out power

Residents from Little Grand Rapids First Nation can finally return home after being displaced in Winnipeg for two and a half months.

Catherine Duck is from the community and has been living at the Best Western Plus Hotel since she was evacuated.

"It's been since July 12 we've been living in Winnipeg, so we're finally going home [Monday]."

In July, more than 130 wildfires were burning across Manitoba, and four First Nations communities in eastern Manitoba were evacuated, including Little Grand Rapids.

Duck got the word she could leave on Friday.

"Most people are very excited to go home," she said. "They miss the lake, they miss fishing, and derby's, and traditional foods like pickerel and moose meat."

The wildfires damaged a remote power line that serves about 1,500 people in Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi First Nations. The damage left 89 poles and 35 structures in need of repair.

On Saturday, Manitoba Hydro confirmed power had been restored to both communities.

Duck doesn't know what to expect when she gets home.

"I'm kind of nervous [to see] what it's going to look like."

Curtis Duck is another resident of Little Grand Rapids First Nation. He said the Canadian Red Cross was on-site working with displaced residents.

"They're just testing people to see if they're positive or negative for COVID," he said.

Manitoba Hydro said because there's no road access to the damaged power line, all replacement poles, crossarms, and equipment needed to be pre-assembled and then flown in by helicopter to the damaged sections.

Curtis believes the Hydro lines could have been repaired a little faster.

"That's a long time considering the amount of time we've been here and the amount of time they've had to fix it."

Duck will be getting on a plane Monday, but she's worried this could happen again.

"It seems to happen every summer, [there's] a fire then we have to leave."