Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
Mathias Colomb First Nation

Mathias Colomb First Nation
Government of Canada

Government of Canada

February 15, 2011 11:00 ET

Government of Canada and Mathias Colomb Cree Nation Ready to Settle on Damage Caused by Fuel Leaks in the 1970s and 1980s

MATHIAS COLOMB CREE NATION, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - Feb. 15, 2011) - The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, and Chief Arlen Dumas of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba announced today they have agreed on the text of a proposed Agreement which would address the impact of diesel fuel leaks in the 1970s and 1980s. Members will vote on the Agreement in late February or early March through a process to be organized by Mathias Colomb Cree Nation. 

If the Agreement is ratified, the community will receive funds to address the impact of the diesel fuel leaks. In return, Mathias Colomb will cease litigation against Canada, Manitoba and Manitoba Hydro in relation to the diesel spills.

"I would like to recognize the hard work of Chief Dumas, who has represented his community's interests in a positive way," said Minister Duncan. "Chief Dumas and his Council have engaged and worked with my department constructively to reach this important draft Agreement."

"Resolution on this matter has been onerous. However I look forward to the opportunities which will come from this Agreement for the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation," said Chief Dumas.

Diesel generators were used to supply power to Pukatawagan Indian Reserve from 1967 until 1985. In the early years, power was used by the community's church, the Hudson Bay Company and federal employees. Members of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation living in the Pukatawagan Indian Reserve received access to this service in 1973. The generators were removed when electric power lines were installed in 1985.

Over this 18 year period, reserve land was contaminated by diesel spills. Since 1992, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has invested more than $36 million to address the impact of the diesel spills. This included contamination studies, soil remediation, and the demolition and reconstruction of several facilities on the reserve. 

In 1997, the First Nation filed a claim against Canada, Manitoba and Manitoba Hydro. After being elected Chief in 2008, Chief Dumas brought forward a plan which allowed both parties to collaborate on resolving the contamination issue and subsequently develop the Agreement. The Agreement, totaling $17 million, will address buildings demolished but not yet replaced, as well as the social, educational and economic impacts of the fuel leaks and disruption resulting from the clean-up.

The proposed Agreement must be ratified by the community through a vote. The community voting process will be organized by the First Nation. Information sessions on the proposed Agreement will be offered in February, with voting to take place in late February or early March.

Link to Mathias Colomb First Nation Community profile:  http://pse5-esd5.ainc-inac.gc.ca/fnp/Main/Search/FNMain.aspx?BAND_NUMBER=311&lang=eng

This news release and the associated backgrounder are also available on the Internet at: www.inac-ainc.gc.ca

Contact Information

  • Minister's Office
    Michele-Jamali Paquette
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Honourable John Duncan
    819-997-0002
    or
    Media Relations
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
    819-953-1160