Chief John Clarke of the Barren Lands First Nation and Chairperson of the Keewatin Tribal Council, extended his support to the four Cree Nations who all are within 75 kms of the Keeyask Project, a 695-megawatt hydro- electric generating station currently being built in their respective land use areas.
The four Cree Nations involved in this matter with Manitoba Hydro are also affiliated with the Keewatin Tribal Council. There are 11 First Nations with a population of 18,000 affiliated with Keewatin Tribal Council.
At a time when Manitoba Health has reported one new Covid19 case in the last seven days, Manitoba Hydro is willing to risk a mass influx of workers from neighboring provinces that still report new cases and deaths due to Covid19 on a daily basis, noted Chief Clarke.
Chief Clarke said “The hard work of all Manitobans, especially our communities in our region, to reduce the spread of the Pandemic will be for not should new cases spark up once the out of province workers arrive at the Keeyask work site.”
The four Cree Nations of Tataskweyak, War lake, Fox Lake and York Factory have been forthcoming in their position for several months and have expressed their concerns that their members were in great danger by the actions of Manitoba Hydro.
The four Cree Nations stand in solidarity over concern for the health and safety of their people and have erected blockades at the work site to support efforts to minimize the spread of COVID 19 in northern Manitoba.
“It is my opinion that all Manitobans should be very concerned that so little attention is given to the leaders of the four Cree Nations in their demand to have the project suspended until such time their fears and concerns have been thoroughly addressed, concluded Chief Clarke.
Chief Eric Redhead of the Shamattawa First Nation and Vice Chairperson of Keewatin Tribal Council, added, “There appears to be a double standard when it comes to the citizens of Manitoba and resource extractors. On the one hand, all citizens are told to stay home and respect social distancing orders and on the other, mining and hydro developments are allowed to place our health and safety at risk. This is not acceptable. Most of those who placate industry by bending rules and circumventing public health orders, do not reside in the north.”