Manitoba

Fox Lake Cree Nation lifts road blockade to 3 Manitoba Hydro sites

A northern Manitoba First Nation has walked away from road blockades to three Manitoba Hydro work sites after blocking access Thursday morning.

Manitoba First Nation agrees to lift blockade after negotiations with Manitoba Hydro, chief says

Manitoba Hydro officials sign a new agreement with Fox Lake Cree Nation on Saturday night. From Left to right: Band Councillor Shawna Henderson, Band Councillor Martin Nicholas, Chief Walter J. Spence, Manitoba Hydro CEO Mr. Kelvin Shepherd and Division Manager of Indigenous Relations Department Ms. Elissa Neville. (Fox Lake Cree Nation)

A northern Manitoba First Nation has walked away from road blockades to three Manitoba Hydro work sites after blocking access last week.

"I feel very optimistic, we're both renewing our commitment to work together," said Walter Spence, the chief of Fox Lake Cree Nation.

Spence said a new agreement was reached Saturday night between Manitoba Hydro and Fox Lake Cree Nation.

Spence met with Manitoba Hydro officials over the weekend after members of the community said hydro workers desecrated a ceremonial site during construction.

People from Fox Lake Cree Nation used heavy machinery to shut down a junction on Highway 290 at about 6 a.m. Thursday morning.

The junction leads to three hydro sites, including the Keewatinohk access gate and construction camp, the Limestone generating station and the Henday converter station.

But Spence said that blockade was lifted Saturday night after a meeting with Manitoba Hydro CEO Kelvin Shepherd.

"After three days of negotiating with Manitoba Hydro's CEO we came to an agreement and the overall outcome is a renewed commitment to work closely together and rebuild our relationship." Spence told CBC on Sunday

Spence said both sides have since signed a new agreement which includes more meetings and better communication with Manitoba Hydro about on-going projects in the community.

"It's really to work more closely with us on some of the terms and conditions of past agreements." he said.

Spence also said hydro officials have apologized and are still investigating the incident.

A hydro official said Thursday that the Crown corporation takes the matter seriously and is in the process of mounting its own investigation into how the ceremonial site was damaged.

With files from CBC's Jillian Taylor

now