First Nation community along Shoal Lake considers cutting off Winnipeg water supply in protest
Published Wednesday, September 7, 2011 5:23PM CST
Officials with an Ontario First Nation along Shoal Lake are considering cutting off the water supply to Winnipeg in a dispute with officials.
"If it's a resort we have to do than that's what we have to do we have to sustain our livelihoods here," said Chief Eli Mandamin with Iskatewizaagegan First Nation.
The First Nation said it will dam up the lake if Ontario, Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg refuse to come up with $124 million in compensation per year. The First Nation said the money is needed to replace lost rice crops and fish stocks due to flooding.
"For me, it hurts to see the rice not being here for the people to harvest," said Basil Greene, a resident of the First Nation.
Mandamin said 52 million gallons of water are forced through the lake every day from Lake of the Woods to ensure water makes its way through an outlet towards Winnipeg.
"If it's not that important to the Manitoba public then go find your water somewhere else - don't put that oppression on us anymore," said Mandamin.
The community is also upset about plans by the City of Winnipeg to sell water and sewer services to West St. Paul and to extend services to the RM of Rosser for the province's inland port.
There is also talk on the First Nation of setting up a blockade on Highway 17, the main route between Manitoba and Kenora. Officials on the First Nation said they're upset about a planned highway twinning project.
"There's a particular sacred area that the twinning is going over and we don't want that to happen," said Mandamin.
On Wednesday, no one from the City of Winnipeg was available for an interview, but a city spokesperson said Manitoba provincial officials will take the lead to try and resolve the issues.
A spokesperson from the province said officials sent a letter to the First Nation last week, asking to meet with all parties involved in the dispute.
- with a report from CTV's Jeff Keele