The Council of Canadians - Winnipeg Chapter



Shoal Lake 40 First Nation - Beyond Freedom Road

Winnipeg's decision to build an aqueduct from Shoal Lake had serious repercussions for the people of the Shoal Lake 40 First Nations community. They were dispossessed of land that included ancestral burial grounds as well as their village at the mouth of the Falcon River. Forced to move to the adjacent peninsula, they were completely cut off when that peninsula was subsequently severed from the mainland by a canal diverting coloured Falcon River water away from Winnipeg's intake. The community has struggled with its man-made isolation ever since. 

   The First Leg of Freedom Road from Shoal Lake 40 First Nation

The Council of Canadians is committed to an ongoing relationship with Shoal Lake 40. We support them in their reasonable demand for an end to the century-long isolation imposed by the City of Winnipeg's water infrastructure. Many lives have been lost and damaged by this man-made isolation, while Winnipeg has benefited and profited from the water.

In December 2015 the three levels of government finally announced the $30 million in funding to build Freedom Road, which will end more than 100 years of forced isolation. It’s good news and a positive step forward! The community has a right to clean drinking water and opportunity for its people. We would encourage those of us on the receiving end of Shoal Lake's water, including all levels of governments, to continue to work with Shoal Lake 40 for justice.


Shoal Lake 40 - The Road Home - Part 1 of 3
Shoal Lake 40 - The Road Home - Part 2 of 3
Shoal Lake 40 - The Road Home - Part 3 of 3

Shoal Lake 40 website

Friends of Shoal Lake 40



Lake St. Martin First Nation - Flooded and Displaced

In 2011 the Manitoba government diverted flood water bound for Winnipeg to the north and as a result, most of the Lake St. Martin First Nation (LSMFN), a reserve for 140 years and home to Anishinaabe people, was washed out. Since then the 1,064 LSMFN members reside in urban hotels and other temporary residences.

“The impacts from flooding and dislocation on LSMFN are profound and extensive. Environmental and developmental displacement has resulted in community members describing themselves as refugees in their homeland. Participants reported that health impacts in their community include premature deaths, increased rates of suicides, miscarriages, mental health issues, and worsening of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The impact on community members is also expected to be more profoundly negative and long lasting than those subjected to other community relocations because of their deep attachment to their land and loss of subsistence and resource livelihoods.” Lake St. Martin First Nation Community Members’ Experiences of Induced Displacement: “We’re like refugees” Refuge - Number 2, Volume 29 

Relocation plans looked like they were heading forward, but the project has been marred by problems.  The construction of a new community began in the spring of 2015 on the Halaburda land adjacent to the flooded reserve. But this property  is also supersaturated, similar to the original reserve. Several feet of scrub and peat moss has to be dug out and foundations must  be constructed, as well as a huge drainage system that must be run year-round. Now, Chief Adrian Sinclair is asking the federal government to investigate whether “inappropriate” behaviour on the part of Indigenous Affairs officials has deprived his people of a suitable community.

Flooding Hope: The Lake St. Martin First Nation Story

Treading Water: Plight of the 2011 Manitoba First Nation Flood Evacuees


Pimicikamak - The Agreement to Process signed

We stand with the people of Pimicikamak in their ongoing process with the Provincial Government and Manitoba Hydro.

Nearly 5,000 people live in the area, which is located over 700 kilometers north of Winnipeg. Local residents there say they have some of the highest electricity and heating bills in the province, despite the electricity generated from a dam in their own territory. The issue is much larger than just utility bills though. There are issues of treaty rights to land and a Northern Flood Agreement (NFA), which is not being implemented. The NFA is supposed to compensate northern Manitoba First Nations affected by hydro development.

Green Green Water  84:34

Pimicikamak by Edward Gamblin, a song about the Northern Flood Agreement
Ministerial Statement - Agreement with Cross Lake/Pimicikamak November 28, 2014

Pimicikamak website


Grassy Narrows - From Mercury Poisoning to Mass Deforestation

Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation (also known as Grassy Narrows First Nation) is an Anishinaabeg community located 80 km north of Kenora, Ontario.

In the 1960's the Dryden Chemical Company poisoned the English-Wabigoon River System with mercury from their effluent discharge. People from Grassy Narrows continue to suffer the effects of mercury poisoning more than 40 years after their commercial fishery was closed.

In 1985 the First Nation received a settlement agreement, which, by today's standards is inadequate. As well, the mercury has never been removed from the water and it continues to adversely affect the health of Grassy Narrows residents today.

Weyerhauser Forest Products has been harvesting trees in the area to supply its Timberstrand Mill in Kenora. The community is concerned about the mass extraction of trees for paper and fears that deforestation will irreversibly damage local habitat.

Grassy Narrows - Forty years later
As long as the Rivers Flow: The Story of the Grassy Narrows

Free Grassy Narrows

Free Grassy Narrows website

CALL and EMAIL premiere Kathleen Wynne - Mercury Action Alert