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."


Latest Canada & World News

  • North Korean media say diplomacy is strength, not weakness

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO -- North Korea's recent moves to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula are evidence of its confidence and national strength, not a sign of weakness, according to its state-run media. The attack against criticism of its diplomatic efforts is surprising because North Korea's media have yet to report virtually any of the activity. Source
  • Sidewalk Labs 'hadn't foreseen' data concerns in designing Toronto neighbourhood

    Canada News CBC News
    Sidewalk Labs "hadn't foreseen" how fiercely Canadians would demand that their data be retained within the country when it first sought out to design a "people first" high-tech neighbourhood in east Toronto, says one of the local leaders working with the start-up, which is owned by Google's parent company Alphabet. Source
  • Israeli military confirms it hit Syrian nuclear site in 2007

    World News CTV News
    TEL AVIV, Israel -- The Israeli military confirmed Wednesday it carried out the 2007 airstrike in Syria that destroyed what was believed to be a nuclear reactor, lifting the veil of secrecy over one of its most daring and mysterious operations in recent memory. Source
  • MMIW: Manitoba family says woman's death never fully investigated

    Canada News CTV News
    The family of a young Manitoba woman who died outside her home has taken their story to the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, to raise concerns that her death was never properly investigated. Source
  • From DMZ to ship at sea, Trump-Kim summit site rumours swirl

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO -- With just weeks to go, there's still no official word on where U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will hold their unprecedented summit. Will they pick an obvious place like one of their own capitals, or something off the wall, like a ship at sea? Or a place so obscure the curious will be sent frantically searching Google Earth? Source
  • Austin, Texas, authorities report another explosion

    World News CBC News
    Austin, Texas, authorities say emergency personnel are responding to another reported explosion, this one at a Goodwill store in the southern part of the city. Austin-Travis County emergency services tweeted Thursday evening that at least one person was injured but that details about the severity of those injuries and the explosion itself were unknown. Source
  • Latest blast not linked to package bombs, Austin police say

    World News CBC News
    Police and federal authorities say the latest explosion to hit Austin was caused by an "incendiary device" and is not related to the series of bombs that has rocked Texas' capital city. The Austin Police Department and the U.S. Source
  • Trump warns of dire consequences if Democrats win 2018 midterm elections

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump says Republicans are "going to win" in this year's midterm elections -- and warns of dire consequences if they don't. Trump made the prediction Tuesday during rah-rah remarks at the National Republican Congressional Committee's annual March fundraiser. Source
  • Mueller should be allowed to 'finish his job,' McConnell says

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday expressed confidence in special counsel Robert Mueller and said he should be allowed to "finish his job," the Senate leader's first response to President Donald Trump's recent outburst of criticism of Mueller and his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Source
  • Smoke-filled WestJet plane undergoes emergency evacuation in Nanaimo, B.C.

    Canada News CBC News
    A WestJet flight from Vancouver to Nanaimo declared an emergency after smoke filled the cabin and flight deck on its approach to the Nanaimo airport Tuesday. Passenger Robin Thacker was sitting in row 17 near the back of the Bombardier Q400 twin turboprop. Source