WHA Fall Research Update


The last intake date for community project and research proposals was October 17th, 2016. The Research Committee met in November to assess the proposals and we’re pleased to share with you the latest projects to be added to WHA activities.

Legal Resources & Knowledge    $6,000    

Proposal Submitted by: Jerch Law

This project will fund two articling students to conduct preliminary research and analysis to inform the drafting of two legal memoranda. The first memorandum would explore and address the issue with respect to Tataskweyak Cree Nation’s (“TCN”) signature on, and agreement to, the Adhesion to Treaty 5. The second memorandum would explore the legal status of the implementation agreements. This research will inform further discussion on the issues and possible action steps.

Wa Ni Ska Tan Youth Camp 2017    $37,800

Proposal Submitted by: Justice Seekers of Nelson House

The 2017 Wa Ni Ska Tan Hydro Alliance (WHA) youth camp, taking place in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, can be viewed as an extension of the inaugural WHA Youth Camp which was held in Norway House Cree Nation in August 2016. The camp is a land-based gathering for youth between the ages of 14-17 and offers an opportunity to bridge knowledge between elders and camp participants in a land-based setting. It is estimated that between 40-60 Indigenous youth from various hydro affected First Nations communities, including youth from communities located in the south area of the province, will have the opportunity: (1) to visit a hydro affected First Nation community; (2) have the opportunity to learn land-based/cultural activities; and (3) learn about the impacts and effects of the activities/developments carried out by Manitoba Hydro.

The date of the camp has yet to be determined, but will take place during the summer of 2017.

For Love of a River: Two Stories of Loss and Longing,    $1,970

Proposal Submitted by: Interchurch Council on Hydropower

For Love of a River is an 18-minute mini-documentary that tells two stories of how hydropower projects effect rivers and the people who love those rivers. The first phase of the project involved filming and editing. That is virtually complete. The second phase is production of a trailer, printing of DVDs for distribution in the north and elsewhere, and compilation of a more complete collection of footage for the Kitchekeesik family, whose story is one of two told in the film.

The Kitchekeesik family of Tataskweyak Cree Nation is at the epicentre of the most costly infrastructure project in Manitoba history. For them, the area where the Keeyask Dam sits and the area it will flood is home. It is where they grew up and remains for them the most precious place on earth. Three of these sisters, along with two of their husbands as well as Robert Spence travelled with us to two cabin sites in the area, the place where their brother died many years ago, and as close to the dam as we could get.

The other story told in the film is of Ellen Cook and the Grand Rapids Dam. Ellen is a member of the Misipawistik Cree Nation and was a young girl when the dam was built very near her family’s home. To tell Ellen’s story we visited Grand Rapids as well as the neighbouring community of Chemawawin, which was relocated as a result of the Grand Rapids Dam. We visited the Old Post from which the community was moved. Ellen hadn’t visit the Old Post since her youth. Ellen concludes her telling of the experiences of these sister communities by stating her belief that the dams will not last forever and one day the rivers will flow again.

Traditional Spawning Habitat Study, $32,888

Proposal Submitted by: Lake Winnipeg Indigenous Collective

One of the common concerns being brought to the forefront of LWIC’s meetings since 2014 is the impact of hydropower development on traditional livelihoods, and on the health of Lake Winnipeg, including shoreline debris, erosion, and the degradation of water quality and fish habitat. LWIC recognizes that traditional ecological knowledge in First Nations communities is a valuable resource to identify environmental impacts, inform policy and resource development decisions, and create sustainable and effective action plans for the future. This project will consist of two phases. Phase 1 will include employing a student to assist in gathering elders and local fishermen in two host communities, documenting impacts to traditional spawning areas, mapping significant habitat locations, conducting site visits, gathering recommendations, and compiling the data into a comprehensive background study for each community. Using these studies, Phase 2 will explore engineered solutions and provide a written and oral report with recommendations to each community on the feasibility of fish habitat rehabilitation projects moving forward.

Treaty and Water Rights Education Seminar, $6,820

Proposal Submitted by: Lake Winnipeg Indigenous Collective

This project will help build capacity in First Nations surrounding Lake Winnipeg through education on aboriginal and treaty rights with respect to water. The seminar will provide an overview of Treaties 1, 3, and 5, key environmental legislation in Canada, the environmental assessment process, the duty to consult, and UNDRIP. This legal knowledge will help inform policy and resource development decisions in these communities. This project will involve contracting an expert in Indigenous law to perform the seminar for the members of the LWIC steering committee and/or the chief and council in their respective communities.

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