2011 - Winnipeggers
enjoy fresh water from Shoal Lake with the turn of a tap. But
the First Nation hugging its shores will have to keep hauling
in drinking water from Kenora after Ottawa shelved its plans for
a water treatment plant.
Image The Shoal Lake
aqueduct intake structure, which draws in drinking water that
has supplied Winnipeg since 1919. (MIKE.APORIUS@FREEPRESS.MB.CA)
fresh water from Shoal Lake with the turn of a tap. But the First
Nation hugging its shores will have to keep hauling in drinking
water from Kenora after Ottawa shelved its plans for a water treatment
Ottawa had set aside
$7.6 million for a plant that has been discussed with the First
Nation since 1998. But this fall, after new construction costs
showed the project would cost nearly twice as much to build, Ottawa
told the First Nation it was a no-go.
"On Oct. 22, they asked
us for a meeting and out of the blue, we were notified at the
meeting, 'Sorry, we're cancelling the project. It costs too much
and there are too few people,' " Shoal Lake 40 Chief Erwin Redsky
said. "It took us off guard," Redsky said. "Completely."
In 1919, the aqueduct
to carry clean lake water directly into Winnipeg was finished.
It is built over an old native burial ground. Between 1912-1919,
the original Ojibwa village, located at the mouth of the Falcon
River at Shoal Lake, was displaced and moved to a man-made island.
A parcel of the band's traditional land, 3,000 acres, became City
of Winnipeg property and split the reserve into three separate
Ottawa selected a peninsula
across the lake from the old village as the site of the Shoal
Lake 40 reserve.
ordered the diversion canal to be dug across nearby narrows, effectively
creating an island and isolating the reserve.
"Here we have a southern
band that's living in a northern isolated situation," said former
City of Winnipeg councillor and former Wolseley MLA Harold Taylor,
now general manager of East-Regional Development. Taylor is helping
to broker an alliance between the RM of Reynolds and Shoal Lake.
He described the history of Shoal Lake as "shocking." Sources:
Shoal Lake's Man-Made Island Power Point presentation; the Manitoba
Historical Society website; the tripartite and parallel agreements
WHO: The city,
province and Shoal Lake 40, and also Ottawa through a parallel
but separate agreement with Shoal Lake 40.
a compensation package, but a three-party "environmental management
agreement," with Shoal Lake 40 responsible for protecting water
quality as long as the city and province would support Shoal
Lake 40 in creating economic development opportunities.
The tripartite agreement
took effect once a parallel agreement was signed between the
federal government and Shoal Lake 40 in 1990. Under that parallel
agreement, Ottawa threw in $2.5 million to build a sewage system,
but water is still untreated. A statement in the tripartite
agreement signed by Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg: "We shall
make every effort to promote economic development beneficial
to the band in the Shoal Lake area."