Manitoba Hydro Indigenous Agreements



Tataskweyak Cree Nation and Lake Cree Nation had set up two roadblocks to prevent the water company from making the change of team. Langford Saunders, president of Norway House Fisherman`s Co-op, rests in his boat after a day of commercial fishing on Lake Winnipeg in 2016. Many fishermen in northern Manitoba complain of changes to their waterways due to the regulation of hydroelectric power, from a green mucus that appears in the water to debris caught in their nets. They also talk about catching more fish lower, such as moles, as they see a decrease in the wealth of precious pickers and white fish. Split Lake hunters travel the winter ice roads in search of a caribou crossroads during the winter herd hike. The municipality of Split Lake has been severely affected by the degradation of the landscape due to water development for most of the century, despite the long-standing efforts of the Split Cree Nation to prevent the construction of dams. In the 1960s, the Kelsey Dam flooded 150 kilometres of land along the Nelson River upstream of Split Lake. Editor`s Note: Aaron Vincent Elkaim`s documentary work in northern Manitoba has been supported by funding from the Ontario Arts Council and Wa Ni Ska Tan at the University of Manitoba, an organization that works with hydro-influenced communities. Neither organization had any influence on the production of this work. Under the pressure of such revelations, the governments of Canada and Manitoba and Manitoba Hydro reached an agreement with five of the local communities that had already suffered from existing water development: Split Lake, Nelson House, York Landing, Norway House and Cross Lake. The 1977 Northern Flood Agreement is generous and imprecise compared to other modern treaties in Canada, such as the James Bay Agreement and the Northern Quebec Accord and the Nisgaa Agreement, which has yet to be ratified. But Warren Allmand, Canada`s Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development at the time of the NFA`s signing, said its inaccuracy was no different from international treaties that develop some of the post-signature implementation mechanisms.

Most of us are familiar with the use of treaties as instruments of the earth`s mission and the frequent inability of governments to keep promises to indigenous peopies. Despite significant diplomatic investments in respect for international human rights, the Government of Canada is no exception to the contractual promises followed by erasure strategies. Manitoba`s hydroelectric power plants have always been marketed as clean, renewable energy. Yet these projects have significantly altered the ecosystems of the northern part of the province and influenced the culture, life and livelihoods of indigenous communities.


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