First Nation threatens to block Shoal Lake from Lake of the Woods

One of the First Nations living along the source of Winnipeg’s drinking water may choke off a channel connecting Lake of the Woods to Shoal Lake if various levels of government don’t listen to its concerns about a city plan to pipe water to neighbouring municipalities.

In July, the Winnipeg and Manitoba agreed to split the cost of extending water and sewer pipes to the R.M. of Rosser, a prerequisite for the development of the CentrePort transportation hub on Winnipeg’s northwest fringes. The city also hopes to sell water and sewage-treatment services north to the R.M. of West St. Paul.

One of two Ontario First Nations located along Shoal Lake, which straddles the Manitoba-Ontario border, has asked Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger and Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz to hold off any extension of Winnipeg’s water and sewage-treatment services. Iskatewizaagegan No. 39 First Nation, located at the east end of Shoal Lake, argues 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.

Today, the Ojibwa nation warned it may block off Ash Rapids, which connects Lake of the Woods to Shoal Lake, if its concerns are not addressed, spokesman Don Courchene said,

The band also threatened to blockade Highway 17, which connects Winnipeg to Kenora.

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