MMF, IRTC, & AFN Stand Together in Flood Management

October 22, 2020

The Interlake Reserves Tribal Council (IRTC), the Assembly of First Nations Manitoba Region (AFN), and the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) stand together to call on the Government of Manitoba to work with Indigenous governments as equals in planning flood management including the Outlet Channels Project.

The Province’s stubborn refusal to listen to and include First Nations attracted a stiff rebuke from the Manitoba Court of Queen Bench in the form of an injunction. Instead of taking the lesson and working to repair the damaged relationship, the Province decided to spend more public money fighting the IRTC in the Court of Appeal. The AFN and the MMF are proud to stand with the IRTC and its member First Nations, and have
filed applications to intervene in Government of Manitoba’s appeal of the injunction.

Given the special relationship our Saulteaux tribe has with the Manitoba Métis Community and the Federal Government’s involvement with the project, “we are now working with the Manitoba Metis Federation and
the Assembly of First Nations to join us in our fight with this provincial government,” says Chief Cornell McLean, IRTC Chair. “Our brothers and sisters from the Métis communities will also bear the weight of project consequences, should this Outlet Channel project be approved. In 2017, Premier Pallister promised that consultations with Indigenous communities on this project would be the most comprehensive in the history of Manitoba, a statement we now know to be little more than rhetoric.”

“The Premier does not understand his role in the Treaty partnership and his Ministers have followed his example, calling the consultation process lengthy and tedious. No progress will be made on the path to reconciliation or solving the problems of flooding and drought in our communities until the Province respects the Treaty and the Constitutional imperative that we have a seat at the table .”

“How many times will we have to call out the Premier and his complete lack of respect for Métis and First Nations rights?” asks MMF President David Chartrand. “We spend so much time, energy, and money making up for the Premier’s failure after failure when he is misinforming Manitobans by stating that he has consulted and has everyone onboard. When we say he has not done his due diligence, he then, basically, says we are all liars.”

“The Métis Nation has been trying for 3 years to ensure that this permanent water diversion will not have devastating impacts to our fishers, farmers, ranchers, land owners and communities. Proper consultations are the right way to avoid problems and delays, and we must do the right decisions for
every generation,” continues President Chartrand.

“We have to know what are the long term environmental impacts and dangers to our water, land, fish, and wildlife.” AFN’s Regional Chief Kevin Hart says “Without proper consultation, the Province is creating an unnecessary legal liability. The flooding in Manitoba involves many people throughout the lake system. Discussions and decision making on flooding and preserving water quality in Manitoba should involve all those who feel its negative seasonal impacts. The provincial government must involve the First Nations in meaningful consultation on solutions and outcomes.

Indigenous communities have serious concerns about the Outlet Channels Project, “The Provincial Government’s thinking behind flood management and the Outlet Project is firmly based in the past. said Karl Zadnik, IRTC Chief Executive Officer. “First Nations people were the stewards of pristine land and water resources for thousands of years but within just a few decades, Manitoba’s misguided policies and activities have polluted the water; drained the wetlands that sheltered birds, fish, and wildlife; and created conditions that threaten Indigenous communities throughout Manitoba,” added Zadnik.

“It is never too late to do the right thing. The Premier and his Ministers must learn from the mistakes of the past and consider options that respond to climate change while respecting our Treaty rights, including fishing,
wetland protection, water quality, and an overall cultural impact assessment,” says McLean.

For more info contact:
Karl Zadnik, IRTC Chief Executive Officer at 204-795-4747
Marci Riel, Manitoba Metis Federation at 204- 619- 1228
Brenda Bear, Assembly of First Nations, Manitoba Region at 204-793-575

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