Manitoba Metis Put Manitoba Hydro On Notice About Bipole III - MMF President Testifies at Clean Environment Commission

November 14, 2012

WINNIPEG - Today, MMF President David Chartrand testified before the Clean Environment, which is holding hearings on Manitoba Hydro's proposed 1,300 kilometer transmission line from Gillam to Winnipeg.

The transmission line – called Bipole III – will go down the west side of the province and cut through the heart of what has been known as the "bread basket" for the Manitoba Metis for generations.  This area south, from Red Deer Lake to Riding Mountain Provincial Park has been used by the Metis for traditional hunting, fishing, gathering and cultural activities for generations.  Since 2010, this area has been subject to moose hunting closures which has meant increased pressures on Metis harvesters with constitutionally protected rights

President Chartrand testified, "Manitoba Metis will not accept yet another project being pushed through on our traditional lands at the expense of our people's rights and way of life.  Neither Manitoba Hydro or the Manitoba Government have meaningfully consulted with us in order to address the effects of this project on us.  This is unacceptable."
"The law is clear:  there is a constitutional duty to consult with Manitoba Metis.  Either do what you are obligated to do or prepare to have Bipole III delayed even further or stopped.  We have gone to court on our harvesting rights and won.  We have to go to court on our land claims and are awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court of Canada.  We will go to court to defend this vital region to Metis hunting, culture and way of life, if we need to", added President Chartrand.
President Chartrand's testimony followed presentations by experts retained by the MMF on the subjects of traditional use, heritage sites and moose.  These experts all highlighted the deficiencies in Manitoba Hydro's environmental assessment on these issues.  As well, hunters, fishers, trappers and gatherers testified about the stresses this area of the province is already under.

President Chartrand concluded, "Manitoba Hydro is now claiming it doesn't have a ‘Plan B' to putting Bipole III down the west side.  Well, our people don't have a ‘Plan B' for it either.  This is the area we have relied on for generations to support our families and community, and we won't accept Manitoba Hydro and the government saying ‘trust us' on this one."

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