Power Failure: The impacts of hydro dams in Northern Manitoba

Justin Brake 
Ashley Brandson
What impacts are hydro dams in northern Manitoba having on local communities? That is the question a new Special Report on APTN News is asking.

Amid a wave of hydro development in the 1970s, Manitoba Hydro and the province promised Cree communities prosperity.

Instead, people were displaced from their lands, traditional economies were decimated, and many communities were plunged into poverty.

A half century later, southerners continue to benefit from the maze of dams along the Nelson and Churchill rivers and their tributaries.

Most Cree communities have accepted compensation from Manitoba Hydro, and some have even become partners in recent projects like the Wuskwatim and Keeyask dams.

But as hydro development continues in northern Manitoba, people and communities are finding that no amount of money can compensate for the loss of a way of life.

Part One

Hydro had “bigger impact” than residential school in Misipawistik: councillor

Life was never the same in Grand Rapids when Manitoba Hydro built a dam on the river. Gone were the rapids that members of the Misipawistic Cree could hear roar day and night, and the fish that kept the community fed. Justin and Ashley start their series in the community that is called the gateway to northern Manitoba.
Read more here.

Part Two

‘We have to live with these changes everyday’: Norway House still struggling from hydro development

Norway House Cree Nation had a thriving culture and fishing industry. Then Manitoba Hydro decided to build a hydroelectric dam. Everything changed after that. The fishery began to die, and people’s livelihoods started to vanish. In Part 2, APTN News looks at the effects of the dam in Norway House and up river.
Read more here.

Part Three

Erosion, boredom and the effects of hydro dams on two Cree communities

For decades, hydro development has wreaked havoc on communities in Northern Manitoba – culturally, socially, and economically. But now community members are speaking out. In this APTN News special report, residents are sharing how the developments have effected the environment.
Read more here.

Hydro ‘succeeded’ in what church, government ‘have been unable to do for the last 500 years’

Even as partners on the Keeyask hydro project currently under construction people in Tataskweyak Cree Nation say things in their community will only get worse with new dams. Meanwhile, in O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation at South Indian Lake says hydro development has led to the “total economic, cultural and social genocide of our people.”
Read more here.

The water was so clean, drinkable’ the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation talks about the days before hydro

The six day tour of communities in Treaty 5 that have been effected by hydro development came to an end in the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation.

The issues here are similar to ones in Gillam, O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation at South Indian Lake, Norway House and the Misipawistic Cree in Grand Rapids – life forever changed after hydro started it system of damming rivers in the 1960s.

In this final episode, Ramona Neckoway who is a member of the Wa Ni Ska Tan Alliance introduces APTN News to her community.
Read more here.

Part Four

Dam partnership has not changed nature of hydro development in Nisichaswayasihk, say members

Despite 40 years of hydro development and four sets of agreements between Nisichaswayasihk Cree Nation and Manitoba Hydro, community members in Nelson House say living conditions are getting worse.

In Part 4 Justin Brake and Ashley Brandson join Ramona Neckoway as she returns home to show that her people’s connection to the land is still strong amid the ongoing destruction and dispossession.
Read more here.

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