Kinew: Government Must Include Fox Lake Leadership in Hydro Abuse Steering Committee

August 27, 2018

Winnipeg, MB – Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew has joined Fox Lake’s call on the Minister of Sustainable Development to include the community and their leadership as members on the Minister’s steering committee.

The Minister announced a steering committee comprised of Manitoba Hydro officials and Sustainable Development department members in response to recent reports of abuse by Hydro workers in northern First Nations. Kinew called for the Minister to include representation from Fox Lake and other northern Hydro-impacted communities.

Last week, the Minister of Sustainable Development unexpectedly released a May report from the Clean Environment Commission (CEC) which studied the social impact of Hydro development on First Nations. The report found that many communities, including Fox Lake Cree Nation, were traumatized from decades of racism, abuse and sexual assault on the part of some Hydro workers. The report’s release has triggered many people in the communities and elsewhere.

The Minister announced that she would be forming a steering committee with Manitoba Hydro officials to discuss solutions to ensure that the alleged behavior is eliminated.

Kinew met with Fox Lake leadership last week, who expressed that any path forward must involve their community.

“The residents of Fox Lake Cree Nation have calmly and courageously raised their voices throughout decades of abuse and hate,” said Kinew. “Their community is committed to addressing this issue and working towards healing. It was Hydro and the Manitoba government making decisions without the community that led to these problems. The community must be included as we work towards solutions.”

Kinew noted that the CEC initially did not reach out to Fox Lake and allow them to make submissions to their report. He also noted that the Minister failed to notify Fox Lake leadership or any other First Nation before releasing the CEC report to the public.

“True reconciliation is about creating respectful relationship but you can’t build relationships if one partner isn’t at the table,” said Kinew. “The Pallister government has not handled this issue with the seriousness and sensitivity it deserves. There is still a chance that we can heal from this if the government includes Fox Lake and other communities in their path forward.”