Winter 2018 Research Update


Another proposal deadline has come and gone. We’re very excited about the new projects and research that was approved by the Research Committee on January 23rd. See below for a summary of the research and community projects we are supporting. Another outcome of the last research meeting was the formation of the Regional Cumulative Effects Assessment (RCEA) and Augmented Flow Program (AFP) working committee. More information on the RCEA & AFP working committee can be found here.

Water Rights Legal Research

Jerch Law – $15,000 

This proposal carries forward previous legal research on two legal memoranda. This project will include meeting with the legal team to discuss the previous NFA memorandum and draft a new legal memorandum to aid Indigenous communities.

The new legal memorandum would consider: 1) the assertion of an Aboriginal right to water; 2) the implications arising from the text of Treaty 5 which does not surrender water rights; 3) the fact that women are water carriers but were not included in treaty negotiations; 4) and the fact that modern day treaties expressly contain provisions about water rights, which provides an evidentiary basis that an Aboriginal right to water has been recognized.

Treaty 3 Dams & Intersectional Colonial Violence

Caolan Barr, MA, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto – $10,360

Caolan’s research revolves around water, settler colonialism and the impacts of dams across Treaty 3 territories, in particular the community of Lac des Mille Lacs. Specifically, it looks at the ways in which dams and hydroelectricity have been intentionally mobilized as settler colonial technologies of violence, displacement and genocide against the Anishinaabe communities of Treaty 3. Beyond examining only the material impacts of the dams, this research looks at how the imposition of hydroelectric infrastructure is part of a process of intersectional colonial violence, in which material, epistemic, ontological and symbolic violence are inextricably intertwined.

Caoloan’s research provides more robust understandings of settler colonialism and could offer more latitude and possibilities in strategies to contest and challenge settler colonialism on multiple registers and scales. Being able to name and analyze the processes through which colonialism articulates itself allows us to more effectively combat it. Likewise, establishing ongoing communities of solidarity concerned with forwarding Indigenous sovereignty and water justice allows us to ethically and sustainably counter the multiple forms of violence of hydroelectricity as constituted through settler colonialism.

Licence to Learn: Hydropower Decision-Making in Manitoba

Community Association of South Indian Lake and Interchurch Council on Hydropower – $17,925

Manitoba Hydro faces four re-licensing processes and two final licencing processes under the Water Power Act in the foreseeable future. Deciding how these projects operate in coming decades will have major consequences for the environment of Manitoba as well as for numerous Indigenous nations. No clear precedent or process exists in Manitoba for these important decision-making steps. In the absence of a precedent or established process, Indigenous peoples as well as civil society now have an opportunity to shape the future. This project seeks to do just that.

The project will focus on the Churchill River Diversion (CRD) licence as a case study. The ultimate goal is to contribute to hydropower-related decision making that: a) better meets Indigenous needs; b) materially decreases environmental impacts; and c) models a modern, participatory, UNDRIP-informed decision-making process. Tangible outcomes include: 1) an accessible, common-sense report; 2) exhaustive compilation of research and findings; and 3) a PowerPoint-style presentation outlining the licensing process, to be made available online and in booklet format.

Public Awareness Campaign on the Impacts of Hydro

Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition (MEJC) $11,400

This proposal seeks funding for part-time assistance, materials, honoraria and media production for a campaign aimed at raising greater awareness among Manitobans about the harmful effects of hydroelectric development.

This particular campaign by MEJC focuses on communication and public awareness. MEJC recently directed the power of public opinion in the successful fight to stop Energy East and intends to apply some of the same tactics to hold Manitoba Hydro accountable. Manitoba Hydro has spent millions of dollars over decades convincing Manitobans that it produces clean energy. However, anyone who has witnessed the devastating environmental and social impacts knows this is not the case. This campaign will help to counteract Manitoba Hydro’s public awareness campaigns to make the truth about hydro as easy and accessible to consume as possible.

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