Several First Nations in Manitoba say they haven’t been consulted by the province on plans for a new flood channel connecting two major waterways to mitigate flooding risks.
The provincial government has been working on plans for the channel since major flooding devastated First Nations communities in the province eight years ago.
At a community forum hosted by the Interlake Reserves Tribal Council in Ashern Monday, some said plans for the proposed Lake Manitoba-Lake St. Martin channel outlet project could negatively impact First Nations rights.
With construction just months away, they say they want to be properly consulted.
“It’s going to impact not only our inherent treaty rights but most importantly the fishing industry as well as the livelihoods,” says IRTC member Karl Zadnik. “The hunting, the fishing, the medicine picking — all the sacred things we hold still today.”
The IRTC represents six communities in the Interlake region of Manitoba, including the four that were impacted by the 2011 flood.
Last year the province hosted four information sessions about the project, none of which were in First Nation communities.
Chief Garnet Woodhouse of Pinaymootang First Nation said he attended Monday’s forum with the hope of finally speaking with a government minister, but to no avail.
“There is a failure from the governments,” he said. “Today we invite the provincial government to be here. Where are they?”
In a statement sent to APTN News, a spokesperson for the Manitoba government said the province “will soon submit the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
“The government recognizes that a number of Indigenous communities have concerns related to the project, and the EIS will provide the opportunity to discuss the details of the project and these concerns.”