Shoal Lake 40 First Nation to finally get its 'Freedom Road'

WINNIPEG -- A reserve under one of the country's longest boil-water advisories is expected to get formal word Thursday that it will get a lifeline to the outside world after decades of living in virtual isolation.

See Full Article

All three levels of government are to officially announce their commitment to build an all-weather road to connect the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation to the mainland.

The reserve on the Manitoba-Ontario boundary was cut off a century ago during construction of an aqueduct which carries fresh water to Winnipeg. Surveyors said at the time that the land was largely uninhabited "with the exception of a few Indians."

While water continues to flow to the Manitoba capital, the reserve of several hundred people has been under a boil-water advisory for 18 years.

Chief Erwin Redsky said most residents are expected to gather at the Manitoba legislature -- along with Canada's new indigenous affairs minister, the Manitoba premier and a Winnipeg official -- to witness what he called a historic day.

"We're very excited," Redsky said. "It will be just an amazing feeling when that day comes, when we actually can drive 365 days a year right to our doorway.

"It's just the first step to the road of reconciliation."

Residents say the "Freedom Road" is both a symbolic and concrete beginning to right the wrong done a century ago.

Redsky said it will also save lives. People who live on the reserve use a treacherous ice road in the winter and people have died falling through the ice.

In the summer, the First Nation depends on an aging ferry to get to the mainland, but the vessel failed government inspection this year.

Health-care workers and ambulances won't risk going to the community and children have to leave the reserve to continue their education past Grade 8. A water treatment plant is prohibitively expensive, as are housing and sewer upgrades, without a road to transport the necessary equipment.

The former Conservative government refused to commit to help fund construction of a road, despite willingness by the province and the city to split the cost three ways.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said the new federal Liberal government believes building the road is an example of "the kinds of steps you have to take to right the wrongs."

"This is a serious commitment and it will happen," she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"So many of these issues are no longer indigenous issues. These are Canadian issues about our values and principles and how we can go forward in a good way."

A design study -- paid for by the federal, provincial and municipal governments -- is expected to be completed in January. The reserve is hoping to begin construction shortly thereafter.

The road is expected to cost about $30 million, which is to be split three ways among the federal, provincial and municipal governments. The Manitoba government has already introduced a bill in the legislature that would give it legal authority to help fund construction of a permanent road.

Premier Greg Selinger called the road a "key infrastructure project."

"We've been talking about it for a long time," he told a luncheon this week at the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, which has been pushing for the road's construction.

"That will get built now."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Did Derek Chauvin cause George Floyd's death and were his actions 'reasonable'? Jury must now decide

    World News CBC News
    Did former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin act reasonably and within his authority when he applied force on George Floyd? And did those actions, including his knee pressed on the neck and back of the 46-year-old Black man, result in his death? Source
  • No one behind the wheel in fatal Tesla crash, Texas authorities say

    World News CBC News
    Two U.S. federal agencies are sending teams to investigate the fatal crash of a Tesla near Houston, Texas in which local authorities say no one was behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), both of which investigate serious auto accidents, said Monday they will send investigators to Spring, Texas, where two men were killed in the fiery crash Saturday night. Source
  • Families of workers killed in B.C. train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

    Canada News CTV News
    FIELD, B.C. -- Families of two of three people killed in a train derailment near the British Columbia-Alberta boundary have filed lawsuits alleging negligence. The westbound Canadian Pacific train was parked on a grade and had its air brakes on in February 2019, when it started rolling on its own, gaining speeds far above the limit for the mountain pass near Field, B.C. Source
  • Prosecutor: FedEx shooter didn't have 'red flag' hearing

    World News CTV News
    INDIANAPOLIS -- A former employee who shot and killed eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis never appeared before a judge for a hearing under Indiana's “red flag” law, even after his mother called police last year to say her son might commit “suicide by cop,” a prosecutor said Monday. Source
  • Budget vows to build 'for the long term' as it promises child care cash, projects massive deficits

    Canada News CBC News
    Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland's first federal budget projects deep deficits for years to come as it promises to support people through the pandemic crisis and make Canada's economy greener and more welcoming to women. "This budget is about finishing the fight against COVID. Source
  • Outcome of judicial recount in Yukon won't affect minority government, says Silver

    Canada News CTV News
    WHITEHORSE -- Yukon Liberal Leader Sandy Silver says he is ready to form the territory's next government, regardless of the outcome of today's judicial recount. Silver says he has met with the commissioner of Yukon, Angelique Bernard, to discuss the way forward and indicated he intends to form the next government and demonstrate he can gain the confidence of the legislature. Source
  • Albanian man with knife wounds 5 at mosque in Tirana

    World News CTV News
    TIRANA, ALBANIA -- An Albanian man with a knife attacked and wounded five people Monday at a mosque in the capital, police said, as investigators tried to determine a motive for the attack. Rudolf Nikolli, 34, entered the Dine Hoxha mosque in downtown Tirana about 2:30 p.m. Source
  • Six people in Vaughan, Ont. injected with saline instead of COVID-19 vaccine

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Six people in Vaughan, Ont. were injected with saline when they were supposed to be getting the COVID-19 vaccine, health officials say. Mackenzie Health said the six people were injected with saline, which is used to dilute the COVID-19 vaccine prior to use, on March 28. Source
  • Leaders of Proud Boys ordered jailed on U.S. Capitol riot charges

    World News CTV News
    A U.S. federal judge on Monday ordered two leaders of the far-right Proud Boys extremist group to be arrested and jailed while awaiting trial on charges they planned and co-ordinated an attack on the U.S. Source
  • Kahnawake vaccinates teens as community's mass vaccination campaign comes to an end

    Canada News CBC News
    While only about 0.2 per cent of teens have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Canada, a First Nation in Quebec included them in its mass vaccination campaign. Gracie Diabo from Kahnawake, Que., received her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine a few days before her 18th birthday last week as the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) community wrapped up its month-long mass vaccination clinic. Source