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NEWS: Iskatewizaagegan First Nation threatens to cut Winnipeg water supply

The Winnipeg Free Press reports that the City of Winnipeg plans “to pipe water (from Shoal Lake in Ontario) to neighbouring municipalities” in Manitoba and that the city “also hopes to sell (the) water and sewage treatment services” to a rural municipality in the province. But the Iskatewizaagegan No. 39 Independent First Nation in Ontario has asked the city and the province not to do this because “the city has no right to sell the water to third parties and must also resolve decades worth of claims over ‘unilaterally appropriated’ lake water.”

Water from Shoal Lake has been piped to Winnipeg through a 135-kilometre aqueduct for more than 90 years. The Iskatewizaagegan No. 39 First Nation has now “warned it may block off Ash Rapids, which connects Lake of the Woods to Shoal Lake, if its concerns are not addressed…” If that channel were closed, it would block the source of Winnipeg’s drinking water.

In 2009, Wawatay News reported there is no agreement in place with Band 39, adding “Winnipeg has authority to withdraw water from Shoal Lake for its water supply based on approvals from the International Joint Commission, the Government of Canada and the Provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.” Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation Chief Terrance Nelson said then, “Their resources are being taken out, Winnipeg doesn’t pay for the water, so they (Shoal Lake 39 members) don’t get the benefits from it.”

Another Wawatay News report from 2010 quotes Iskatewizaagegan Chief Eli Mandamin saying, “Every year millions of gallons (of water) are removed from our territory…which we have never given our permission to use. The City of Winnipeg continues to enjoy clean, safe water that is taken from our watershed and for which we have never received fair compensation.”

In April 2011, the City of Winnipeg signed a 30-year public-private partnership with Veolia, a transnational water corporation.

Two recent Winnipeg Free Press articles can be read at http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/First-Nation-threatens-to-block-Shoal-Lake-from-Lake-of-the-Woods-129315998.html and http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/ontario-first-nation-opposes-city-sewer-water-deal-with-rm-125472058.html.