During the 10 Days for Action on Shoal Lake Campaign, St. Matthews Maryland Community Ministry took action. Friday, July 17 guests were invited to sign a Petition addressed to the Federal Government asking that funding to build a road from the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation to the Trans Canada be put in place immediately. Guests also signed a thank you card, expressing gratitude to the people of Shoal Lake for the Winnipeg’s water.
Instead of serving coffee we served tap water coloured blue as a sign of the tears of frustration, pain and anger of the Shoal Lake people. Thanks to the Volunteen Youth Program for their assistance with this.
For over 100 years, Winnipeg has received its drinking water from Shoal Lake. The First Nations band that lives on Shoal Lake was reduced to an island in 1914 when Ontario, Manitoba, Ottawa and the United States agreed to Winnipeg’s plan to build an aqueduct that supplies Winnipeg with its drinking water. The consequences of this diversion, ironically, left the residents of Shoal Lake with undrinkable water. For the past 18 years they have been under a boil water advisory — one of the longest such advisories in Canada — not to mention that travel across the open water is treacherous, particularly in winter. Several people have fallen through the ice and died.
Garbage removal, economic development, emergency services and social connections have all been impaired. The absence of clean drinking water is also a human-rights issue.
Recently the federal government refused to commit to building a road that would dramatically improve the quality of life of the residents. Without a road linking their island to the Trans-Canada Highway, they have no hope of ever receiving a water treatment facility. The federal government is planning to spend $100 million to expand the national highway located on Treaty 3 land, but it has steadfastly refused to join other levels of government for a $30-million, 28-kilometre road that would link Shoal Lake with the Trans-Canada.
In light of the recent findings and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, just and practical steps by all levels of government for the flourishing of Shoal lake 40 is a fundamental step on the road to reconciliation.
Please take a moment to sign the Petition.