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Shoal Lake 40 'Human Rights Violations Museum' highlights water problems

The community of Shoal Lake 40 is spring boarding off the official opening of Winnipeg's Canadian Museum for Human Rights to launch a cheeky invitation to a "museum" of its own.

Shoal Lake 40 was flooded and cut off from mainland so Winnipeg could source its water

The Shoal Lake community has repeatedly opposed Winnipeg's plan to sell the water to nearby municipalities. (Shoal Lake First Nation)
The Canadian Museum of Human Rights officially opens in Winnipeg on Friday. At the same time, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation says it's opening it's own museum... of Human Rights Violations.And that museum, is the community itself. 6:40

The community of Shoal Lake 40 is spring boarding off the official opening of Winnipeg's Canadian Museum for Human Rights to launch a cheeky invitation to a "living museum" of its own.

The First Nation is offering tours of what it calls the "Museum of Canadian Human Rights Violations."

Organizer Roxanne Greene told CBC News she wants to draw attention to poor conditions in her community — and the fact that Winnipeg gets its water from Shoal Lake, while the First Nation itself is under a boil water advisory.

Shoal Lake was flooded and cut off from the mainland so that Winnipeg could source its water.

“The community that became isolated just so they can get their drinking water, doesn't even have clean drinking water themselves. And we're slowly dying here,” she said.
"Museum of Canadian Human Rights Violations" organizer Roxanne Greene wants to draw attention to poor conditions in her community of Shoal Lake 40 in northwestern Ontario. (Supplied)

“So that's why we want to invite them to come see the Human Rights Violation Tour themselves."

Greene says she's getting lots of calls and emails from people interested in taking the tours.

‘Water is a life-giver’

People who book a tour will be met at the barge that people in the community use to cross the water. They will pay the $5 fee that people in the community pay for the trip. They'll then tour the community and see the lack of clean drinking water.

"We've been on boil water advisory for 17 years now. We don't even have a water treatment plant,” Greene continued.

"Water is a life-giver, and we can't even bathe properly in the water that we have.  So we want people to see, first hand, what it's like to live here because of the isolation."

She said people will also see the inadequate sewage site, and garbage disposal site.

"We can't have garbage properly stored.  It spills onto the road. And the tour bus will drive over the garbage."

Community members will be more than happy to share stories about life in the community, Greene added.

"We don't have very many economic opportunities here, and very little jobs. So it's hard to survive here."

Greene said it's fitting the tours are being held the week the museum is opening.

"I think it's fitting because all these people are coming to Winnipeg to look at the brand new museum that Canada is proud of. But at the other end of the pipe, here we are.”

This is an opportunity to reach out to mainstream Canadians, but Greene said they also want to get the federal government’s attention. The community wants a road installed that will connect them to the mainland.

Greene noted officials at the new Winnipeg museum have been receptive to their concerns, and that representatives have already visited the community.

"They've started to understand our situation."

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