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'We are tired of waiting': First Nations leaders call for safety upgrades after fatal hit-and-run on Manitoba highway

Representatives from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Brokenhead Ojibway Nation are pictured at an April 24, 2023 news conference. (Source: Jamie Dowsett/CTV News Winnipeg) Representatives from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Brokenhead Ojibway Nation are pictured at an April 24, 2023 news conference. (Source: Jamie Dowsett/CTV News Winnipeg)
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The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Brokenhead Ojibway Nation are calling for safety improvements on Highway 59 following an alleged hit-and-run that killed a community member last week.

RCMP say a 75-year-old man was walking north on the right-hand shoulder of the highway on April 20 in the Scanterbury, Man. community when he was hit from behind.

Mounties say the driver didn't remain at the scene.

Officers responded to the incident, and the man was pronounced dead.

First Nations leaders say community members were having a Jets whiteout party at a nearby schoolyard at the time.

“Unfortunately, our children and families also witnessed the hit-and-run that happened in our community,” Brokenhead Ojibway Nation Chief Gord Bluesky said at a news conference Monday.

“We've met with the RCMP and are hoping that the perpetrators of this terrible and tragic incident are found.”

A map showing Brokenhead Ojibway Nation and Scanterbury.

The organizations say the portion of Highway 59 that runs through Brokenhead Ojibway Nation is flanked by local businesses, homes and schools. They note thousands of vehicles pass through every year to visit South Beach Casino, beach communities along Lake Winnipeg and other communities further north.

Vehicles are able to pass at an 80 kilometre per hour speed limit, but they say many motorists drive faster.

Leaders are now calling on the province to improve safety along this stretch by implementing a speed reduction, installing proper illumination and adding safe crossing points.

They also want an ‘immediate reset and renewed relationship with the Government of Manitoba’ regarding traffic conditions and want full engagement on long-term solutions

“Our community is at a point now where we are tired of waiting for the action of the Province of Manitoba. We are tired of requesting these changes to our highway safety to improve the safety of our community members,” Chief Bluesky said.

Manitoba’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Doyle Piwniuk said in a prepared statement the province reached out to Chief Bluesky to offer their deepest condolences to the community and family members.

He said temporary speed reader signs were recently installed, and they are actively looking at additional options to enhance safety in this area.

“We look forward to presenting solutions to Chief Blueksy in the coming weeks and will continue to work with Brokenhead First Nation regarding this stretch of highway," the statement read.

"Every fatality on Manitoba’s roadways are tragic and undergo a thorough review. At this time the RCMP are currently investigating the incident."

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