Province of Manitoba and Manitoba Hydro Damage Indigenous Lands with Unilateral Licencing Policy Decision for the Churchill River Diversion Project, Honour of the Crown at Stake
WINNIPEG, MB, May 14, 2021 – O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation, Treaty 5: The Summit of Treaty Five Sovereign Nations comprising of 40 First Nations in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario will stand with the Treaty 5 First Nations and individual Treaty 5 holders who will be adversely impacted by the issuance of a permanent licence for Churchill River Diversion, Lake Winnipeg Regulation and Jenpeg Generating Station in Manitoba. There are numerous First Nations that are directly impacted.
On May 13, 2021, the Manitoba Conservative government unilaterally made the decision to issue these licences which infringe on the Aboriginal and Treaty rights and will have an adverse cumulative impact on the environment by Hydro development. Once again, inadequate consultations; a legal obligation Manitoba holds, and an absence of meaningful accommodation are echoed among Treaty 5 people. With the increased concerns on the lack of fulfillment of the Treaty provisions, the Summit of Treaty Five Sovereign Nations recently adopted the Declaration on Natural Resources on Treaty Territory, which they vow to uphold.
Chief Shirley Ducharme, O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation stated, “we adamantly reject Manitoba’s claim to have held “decade-long” meaningful consultations with our nation. Misleading Manitobans and Canadians about the degree of consultation that it has met their legal obligation to consult is egregiously negligent. The Honour of the Crown is at stake, does the Premier of Manitoba know that? The Supreme Court of Canada has set standards on consultation and Manitoba has only mitigated on how they conduct the duty to consult and accommodate, as a way to get around the Indians. We call for a reset and restart of the consultation process where one Treaty party does not display an assumed power over the other through a process that leads to meaningful results and benefits for all parties. Our livelihood, our fishing industry, trapping and living off our lands are going to be further damaged by flooding and I worry for the generations to come that this will make their Treaty rights obsolete.”
Chief Clarence Easter, Chemawawin Cree Nation said, “Our history began many centuries before Canada became a country. Our ancestral lineage to this land is sacred and immemorial. Our homelands have never been surrendered, released, or been conquered. Indigenous people allowed access to the land to build this great country. Time is long-overdue for our Treaty partners to respect Indigenous nations power to decide our own fates according to inherent jurisdictions. While this country flaunts the flag of reconciliation, we are once again seeing an erosion of the spirit and intent of the Treaty: to share the land. Having said that, I think it’s a travesty that the province of Manitoba is not following the rule of law on consultation and section 35 of the constitution that recognises our rights regarding hydro development in the north.”
Chief Sheldon Kent, Black River First Nation stated, “Regardless of continued opposition to this project and continued demands for fair and adequate consultation, regardless of Canada’s recent adoption in principle of UNDRIP’s standards to provide free prior and informed consent, Manitoba has made the decision to grant a permanent license for the Churchill River Diversion, once again leaving First Nations as an afterthought. We have time and time again honoured our Treaty by sharing the land and resources while the provinces reject our participation and leave us impoverished economically, socially and, without access to lands for ceremony. There is no honour of the Crown when it refuses to work with First Nations as equal partners and, instead commits ongoing cultural genocide by eroding our livelihood and the articles of Treaty.”
For further information: Contact Lucas Kent, Media Contact at 1-204-291-3207 or [email protected], or Monica Manuel at 1-431-277-3596 or [email protected]