Presentation to Clean Environment Commission on the Keeyask Generation Project Concerns and Issues of the Manitoba Métis Community Winnipeg, Manitoba

December 2, 2013

Today, Manitoba Metis Federation ("MMF") President David Chartrand, along with Metis leaders, citizens and harvesters from northern Manitoba, testified before Clean Environment Commission ("CEC") on the proposed Keeyask Hydro Project.

The proposed Keeyask Project is a potential 695-megawatt hydroelectric generating station at Gull Rapids on the lower Nelson River in northern Manitoba, Canada. The proponent for the project is Manitoba Hydro and four northern First Nations.

The MMF urged the CEC to not recommend Keeyask until a proper assessment of its regional effects on the Manitoba Metis Community is complete, along with appropriate measures to address the project's environmental, socio-economic and cultural effects on the Metis.

MMF citizens and traditional resources users provided evidence that the damage from past flooding still has negative effects today with Manitoba Hydro's ongoing operation causing water levels in the rivers and lakes relied upon for Metis traditional use and commercial fishing varying widely and causing significant erosion and damage to the eco-system throughout the region. They believe Keeyask will only compound this ongoing damage and destruction of the regional water system and ecosystems.

The MMF presenters also testified about their concerns that Manitoba Hydro's projects will have significant "spill over" effects on Thompson and the Bayline communities of Thicket Portage, Waboden and Pikwitonei, where significant numbers of Metis live today. While mitigation measures and adverse effects agreements have been put in with First Nations in the region, the Metis community continues to be excluded.

President Chartrand testified about how Manitoba Hydro has begun to "write a new chapter" with First Nations in northern Manitoba through the Keeyask partnership, but Manitoba Hydro's legacy of exclusion, denial and indifference towards the Metis community continues as can be seen in the development of the Keeyask project as well as the Bipole III Transmission Line.

"Similar to how we have had to work through the courts in order to be vindicated with respect to our land claims and harvesting rights, it is very likely we will be back in the courts very soon to stop the injustices our people continue to face at the hands of Manitoba Hydro," said President Chartrand.

Chartrand concluded, "Our likely upcoming court challenges will cause delays and uncertainty about the multi-billion dollar development plans being pushed through by the Manitoba Government and its agent - Manitoba Hydro - but we cannot allow for more damage and destruction to our people's way of life in this province."

The MMF has already appealed the Minister of Conservation and Wildlife Service's License for the Bipole III Transmission Line issued in August of this year. The MMF is still awaiting a response from the Minister on this appeal. It cannot file a judicial review of the Bipole III License in the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench until the appeal process under the Environment Act is exhausted.

A copy of the MMF's presentation is available here

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