After being sued by a Manitoba First Nation in December, the provincial government’s multi-billion-dollar Bipole III hydro project is one step closer to getting underway.
Sapotaweyak Cree Nation Chief Nelson Genaille said Tuesday he is angry with Manitoba's courts after a judge dismissed an injunction he filed against the province and Manitoba Hydro Dec. 4.
“I caught Manitoba Hydro and Government lying,” said Genaille. “They lied in regards to the need for this Bipole III. When I looked at reports about what currently Bipole I and II currently does for Manitoba, it's more than sufficient enough for hydroelectricity for many, many years.
“And this Bipole III, it's just … a smokescreen to get the government out of deficit. That's all this is.”
Genaille said traditional treaty and hunting land will be destroyed if the Bipole III project is allowed to go through.
“It's going to change the way of life we currently do have now,” said Genaille. “We live off the animals, we get the medicine from the land, you know, the water.”
Genaille said Bipole III will jeopardize sacred ways of life on Sapotaweyak Cree Nation, adding that it defies treaty rights bestowed to First Nations.
“This is basically there for economic [reasons], not only for Manitobans. It's only for the government. Nobody’s going to benefit other than the government.”
Genaille said he tried to peacefully negotiate with hydro and the province, but to no avail.
“I always told them and maintained that we have a peaceful treaty as co-existors right now. We must honour that because our grandfathers set that out before us,” he said.
But in light of the court ruling, Genaille said he will now leave it up to his band members to decide the next steps.
“Each and every individual from Sapotaweyak Cree Nation and the surrounding communities, including up north; maybe it's up to them to stand up for their own treaty-aboriginal rights, to start blockading and to start showing government and showing Canada what's happening over here.”
Genaille said he will be discussing the case against Bipole III at an executive meeting of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs in the coming days.