Current Problems


Interlake Reserves Tribal Council calls on Manitoba to halt outlet channels project

June 13, 2024

Feds acknowledge project’s foreseeable harm on Indigenous communities.

APTN News: Treaty 2 leaders gathered in Winnipeg today to bring attention to the harm projected to be caused by the Lake Manitoba/Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels Project.

The $540 million project was originally proposed to prevent flooding by creating two, 24-kilometer-long flood diversion channels.

Last week, federal Environment and Climate Change Minister, Steven Guilbeault, formally acknowledged the project’s foreseeable harm to Indigenous peoples.

Now, the Interlake Reserves Tribal Council is calling on the province to do the same.

“We’re hopeful that moving forward, the government of Manitoba’s water management strategy includes us in being part of that strategy, as well as taking our status as important rights holders, our inherent rights and Treaty rights, into consideration,” Karl Zadnik, the CEO of the tribal council said.

In April, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada released a report listing several harmful impacts the project could have on Indigenous peoples.

It included the loss of physical and cultural heritage and the altering of traditional land practices.

At the Thursday news conference, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Cathy Merrick stressed the importance of upholding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) principles, the duty to consult and centering First Nations leadership in environmental projects.

“First Nations must take the lead on these environmental impact assessments. They must be the decision makers over the use of their land and their territories that their citizens have been stewards of long before the federal and provincial governments were created,” she said.

Treaty 2 leaders underscored the ongoing impact flooding has had on their communities.

In 2011, a flood devastated and displaced the community of Lake St. Martin First Nation. In June 2021, the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench ruled the province was partially responsible, after creating a man-made flood diversion system.

To this day, some are unable to return home.

“In Lake St. Martin, the people, our Elders like to go back there and visit where they grew up, but they can’t now because of the road. The road was all washed out,” Acting Chief Brad Beardy said.

Still, the Interlake Reserves Tribal Council rejects the outlet channels project as a flood mitigation measure, stating it will only cause more problems.

Karl Zadnik, the council’s CEO, said they’re looking at sustainable alternatives–including one put forward by a consultant hired by Peguis First Nation.

“They proposed an alternative solution which was to capture the flood water, and then put it through osmosis or some kind of system that would refine the water so that it could be used and maybe reallocated to people in need that are going through drought,” Zadnik said. “It’s a little more expensive but again, it’s more futuristic thinking in terms of green energy and climate change.”

Lake Manitoba First Nation Chief Cornell McLean said the council is scheduled to meet with the province on July 18th to discuss a way forward.

Contribute Button
Continue Reading

Both Innu Nation, NunatuKavut Community Council claim victory after Federal Cour…


Cierra Bettens,