Barlow visits Shoal Lake 40 and Iskatewizaagegan Shoal Lake 39

Barlow talks with Shoal Lake 40 spokesperson Cuyler Cotton.
Barlow talks with Shoal Lake 40 spokesperson Cuyler Cotton.

Following a public forum on Saturday in Winnipeg opposing the Energy East pipeline, the Council of Canadians visited Shoal Lake 40 and Iskatewizaagegan Shoal Lake 39 to further highlight the threats of the proposed tar sands pipeline and to draw attention to the issue of the right to water.

The Winnipeg Free Press reports, "Maude Barlow was in southern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario this weekend on a tour to mobilize opposition to the proposed cross-country pipeline. ...She toured both First Nations in the area Sunday. ...Shoal Lake 40 and its sister community Iskatewizaagegan Shoal Lake 39 have had a century of problems since the [135 kilometre] aqueduct was built to carry drinking water to Winnipeg."

The news report adds, "Shoal Lake 40 has been under one of Canada’s longest boil-water advisories and residents have been living on a man-made island without an all-weather bridge since the aqueduct was constructed. Barlow was shown what life is like there Sunday." The community has been under a boil water advisory for the past 18 years.

Shoal Lake 40 First Nation spokesperson Daryl Redsky said, "We appreciate the show of support and solidarity we’re getting from people across the country. This is an opportunity for the community to reveal what’s on the ground, now that the snow’s gone." In a CBC news report, Shoal Lake No. 40 Chief Erwin Redsky adds, "We're very concerned about the potential project that may be going through our territory. We understand that the pipe has been there for some time, it's a 40-year-old pipe, and we're concerned that oil is going to be running through that pipe."

Barlow also notes, "We’re deeply concerned about the Assiniboine and the Red (River). The fact is, the pipeline goes two metres under the aqueduct that takes water from Shoal Lake to Winnipeg. All the drinking water for Winnipeg would potentially be contaminated." The Winnipeg Free Press highlights, "In many areas, including the stretch through Manitoba, Barlow said bitumen would be pumped through existing pipelines that are 40 to 60 years old and must first be converted to carry the heavy oil. An additional hazard [noted by Barlow] is the pipeline is located in remote areas where spills could occur without officials noticing the problem until it’s too late..."

The CBC news report quotes Barlow saying, "They're still in the preliminary stages and Canadians can say 'no,' and we're building a wall of opposition all along the pipeline. This is a pipeline that would carry the dirtiest, most dangerous energy on earth over a 1,000 waterways. We love our water, we have to protect our water, and we cannot let it happen."

The four-community tour in opposition to the Energy East pipeline continues in Regina today (April 13), then to Swift Current (April 15) and Moose Jaw (April 16). For more information on those stops, please click here. The tour is being organized by the Council of Canadians with the support of the National Farmers Union and local partners.

Further reading
Winnipeg chapter stands with Shoal Lake 40 First Nation (September 2014 blog)
Energy East pipeline may put at risk Winnipeg's drinking water (January 2014 blog)
Iskatewizaagegan First Nation threatens to cut Winnipeg water supply (September 2011 blog)