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Jul 25, 2023
‘We shouldn’t have had to risk our survival just so Winnipeg could divert water,’ says chief.
A First Nation whose lake supplies drinking water to the city of Winnipeg is suing for a century of alleged damages, according to a statement of claim filed Tuesday.
The 13-page “injurious affection claim” seeks unnamed compensation for the “devastating impacts of the Winnipeg aqueduct” that isolated the Anishinaabe community for more than 100 years.
Shoal Lake 40, just east of the Manitoba-Ontario border, was cut off from the mainland in 1915 when the government of Canada expropriated more than 1,215 hectares (3,000 acres) and relocated the-then 100-member community.
The population was forced onto an artificial island while water from its namesake lake was diverted to Winnipeg, about 160 km west, via railway, aqueduct and canal.
According to the claim, the water transport system trisected its “ancestral lands” and prevented community members from using Shoal Lake for their own drinking water, boating or fishing. To add insult to injury, the community had to rely on bottled water from 1997 to 2019 after its water treatment plant failed.