Keeyask blockade eases as Cree nations reach agreement with Manitoba Hydro

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WINNIPEG –
Blockades were lifted to prevent Manitoba Hydro construction workers from entering the Keeyask hydroelectric project.

In a press release on Sunday, the isolation First Nations said they had reached an agreement with Manitoba Hydro and would remove the dams.

The leaders of the four Cree Nations met with the President and CEO of Manitoba Hydro, Jay Grewal, on Saturday.

The Chiefs and Manitoba Hydro reached an agreement that the dams would be lifted if the company lifted the injunction against the Cree Nation of Tataskweyak, proceeded to implement the project plan for Keeyask and provided for a face-to-face meeting with the leaders of the four Cree nations.

BLOCKADE FORMATION

Manitoba Hydro had scheduled a shift transition from May 19, which would bring approximately 1,000 employees to the site.

Although the company worked with provincial health officials to create the shift change plan, neighboring First Nations were still concerned that workers would bring COVId-19 to northern communities.

The longest blockade outside of the Tataskweyak Cree Nation was in place for ten days. Chief Doreen Spence received an injunction on May 20.

READ MORE: RCMP will sign injunction to lift blockade on Manitoba Hydro construction site

“First Nations, like other Manitobans, have made many sacrifices to limit the transmission of COVID-19. While we absolutely want our economies to open up and succeed, we are ultimately most concerned about the well-being and health of our citizens during this uncertain time, “said Tataskweyak chief Doreen Spence in the communicated.

“We want to protect everyone from this virus. We look forward to working as full partners throughout the completion and operation of this project. “

GO FORWARD

In the press release, several Manitoba First Nations chiefs indicated that they were eager to work with Manitoba Hydro and noted that direct communication was vital to solving the problems.

“Manitoba Hydro must work with First Nations in the best interest of the health and well-being of the people of northern Manitoba,” said Chief Billy Beardy of the Fox Lake Cree Nation.

“War Lake looks forward to being fully informed and ready for the next steps in the construction of the Keeyask Generating Station,” said Chief Betsy Kennedy of War Lake First Nation.

Manitoba Hydro announced on Thursday that it had brought the Keeyask project to “care and maintenance”.

In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for Manitoba Hydro said: “Manitoba Hydro is delighted to have been able to reach an agreement with our partners from the Keeyask Cree Nation who will see the construction of Keeyask safely resumed, all protecting workers and surrounding communities. “

The spokesman also confirmed that the dams had been lifted and that Manitoba Hydro would not renew its injunction.

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