Norway House Cree Nation

Norway House Cree Nation

October 30, 2009 18:15 ET

Norway House Cree Nation Calls for Public and Transparent Process to Review Manitoba Hydro's Lake Winnipeg Regulation and Churchill River Diversion Project

NORWAY HOUSE, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - Oct. 30, 2009) - Norway House Cree Nation Chief Marcel Balfour and Council today called on Manitoba to establish a "public, open and transparent process" to review the Lake Winnipeg Regulation and Churchill River Diversion Project (LWRCRDP). 

In 1973, Manitoba Hydro began construction on the LWCRDP that involved a series of dams to regulate water levels on Lake Winnipeg and divert the Churchill River under an interim licence granted by the Manitoba Water Power Act. Hundreds of square miles of land were flooded. Today, Manitoba Hydro continues to raise and lower water that makes up Lake Winnipeg and also regulates the Churchill and Nelson Rivers. Manitoba Hydro now seeks a 50-year final licence only for the Churchill River Diversion Project. It will seek a separate licencing process for the regulation of Lake Winnipeg. The Manitoba government made a request for Norway House Cree Nation to participate in consultation about Hydro's request for a final licence only for the Churchill-Nelson River Diversion. 

"Norway House Cree Nation does not agree with Manitoba Hydro's approach to separating the Lake Winnipeg Regulation and Churchill River Diversion Project. If we are going to talk about the Churchill River Diversion Project, we must also talk about the Lake Winnipeg Regulation System. While we are glad the Province of Manitoba is seeking to consult with us, as we design this consultation process, Norway House Cree Nation will seek to ensure it includes the regulation of Lake Winnipeg" Chief Balfour said. 

In 1977 the Northern Flood Agreement (NFA) Treaty was signed with Norway House Cree Nation and 4 other First Nations to address the issue of flooding of lands caused by Manitoba Hydro. In 1997, the NHCN Master Implementation Agreement was signed to implement the NFA Treaty.

"Manitoba Hydro is working on and planning future development. In effect, they are changing the LWRCRDP. This necessarily impacts the NFA Treaty" Chief Balfour said, adding "our 1997 agreement with Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba and Canada was to address the flooding of our land and impact on our rights and our way of life. Twelve years later the terms of our implementation agreement have not been met and we have not received any land in compensation for the flooded land, and Manitoba Hydro continues to unlawfully flood our land and make profits off of it."

Chief Balfour stated "In 1973 Manitoba and Canada said the flooding of our lands were justified to provide power needed of the Province. Today, Manitoba Hydro has a very different focus – maximizing export revenues. We will seek with this licencing process a system-wide look at how Hydro manages and operates rivers and lakes that supply water to Hydro's dams and the outstanding issues regarding implementation of the NFA Treaty. Together with the Province's special audit to investigate whistleblower claims of export risks and mismanagement, this will provide everyone with a timely and once in a lifetime opportunity to look at Manitoba Hydro's projects and operations and see if in fact Manitoba Hydro's power is actually 'green'."

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