Sacred fire planned at human rights museum to highlight First Nations water issues
A group of First Nations people plans to light a sacred fire near the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg to educate visitors about how many indigenous communities don't have access to clean drinking water.
The group is gathering outside the museum, which officially opens this weekend, in part because one of the museum's key themes is water.
"The central theme is healing with water, and we don't have a human right to water yet," said Alberteen Spence of the Tataskweyak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba.
Spence said she wants to tell the public about water issues that indigenous people face, such as no running water in some communities and the lack of clean water in others.
Spence said she also wants people to know about the effects Manitoba Hydro's projects have had on her home community.
The Shoal Lake #40 First Nation has noted that the museum's use of water as a symbol of healing is "hugely ironic."
The museum is using water from Winnipeg's municipal water supply, which is taken from Shoal Lake on the other side of the Ontario-Manitoba border.
- First Nation offended by Canadian Museum for Human Rights
- OPINION | Human rights museum needs to act on First Nations right to water
- AUDIO | Amnesty International visits Shoal Lake 40 First Nation
- Visit CBC Aboriginal for more top stories
Daryl Redsky, a consultation officer with the First Nation, said what the city has done has forced the isolation of his people and presented no economic opportunities.
"We want them to tell the truth about what's actually happened in the past, the injustices that's been placed upon our people just for the sake of water," he said.
Spence and Redsky said the sacred fire event is not a protest, but they hope people will see for themselves the water issues that First Nations face.
"Citizens and people can't be fooled that a building and an idea [are] going to speak for all human rights," Spence said.