Manitoba Hydro Northern Flood Agreement

26 Sep

“Why should I make a new deal when you haven`t even respected the first deal, the first place?” says Chief Monias. “Why should I trust you to do it again?” Keywords: Indigenous peoples, environmental protection, land ownership, liability/compensation, economy/industry/business, financing, compliance/compliance, governance, jurisdiction, procedural issues, property rights, unshakable rights/existing rights, collection/reporting, subnational agreement, contract/agreement, inland waters The four Island First Nations (Wasagamaak, Garden Hill, St. Theresa Point and Red Sucker Lake) reached an agreement on March 14. 1994 The conditions under which a mega hydroelectric project was imposed on the people of northern Manitoba did not go unnoticed. In 1975, a public enquiry panel was convened in Winnipeg and the local community of Nelson House, led by an interfaith coalition of ecclesial groups. Testimonies gathered during these hearings publicly revealed that the Nelson River project has damaged an abundant and varied but fragile ecology in a way that is poorly understood due to a lack of reliable research. The public heard testimonies from Cree fishermen about the Hydro project, which caused a reversal of natural water regimes with winter flooding and low water in the summer, resulting in the destruction of spawning grounds and the loss of a viable fishery. Cree spokespeople lamented flooding and erosion of ancestral burial sites. They spoke of the dangers of navigation arising from weak ice and open water debris, which severely limited their type of capture and spiritual attachment to land. The inquiry was particularly concerned about the lack of reasonable efforts to compensate indigenous peoples or review development plans to minimize their environmental and social impacts. Under pressure from these revelations, the governments of Canada, Manitoba and Manitoba Hydro reached an agreement with five of the local communities that had already suffered from existing hydroelectric development: Split Lake, Nelson House, York Landing, Norway House and Cross Lake. The 1977 Northern Flood Agreement is generous and imprecise compared to Canada`s other modern treaties, such as the James Bay and Northern Quebec Accords and the Nisgaa Accord, which has yet to be ratified.

Warren Allmand, Canada`s Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development at the time of the NFA`s signing, however, said his vagueness was not distorted by international treaties that develop some of the implementation mechanisms after signing. Comprehensive implementation agreements have been reached with 4 of the 5 NFA First Nations. This agreement included multi-million euro compensation that enabled NCN to make significant investments in local authorities and economic development. It led to the creation of the Nisichawayasihk Trust, the Gilbert McDonald Arena and the purchase of the Mystery Lake Motor Hotel and adjacent land in the City of Thompson. With permission from the federal government, NCN hopes to integrate these properties into a planned urban reserve….

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