For Immediate Release
(November 05th, 2021) The Interlake Reserves Tribal Council (IRTC) says the Government of Manitoba spent over a million dollars fighting First Nations communities on the proposed Outlet Channels Project. This discovery was made when a request under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FIPPA) revealed that $1, 040, 236.20 was spent in legal fees between January 2018 and September 2021. All these funds were channeled into fighting communities that were only demanding that their Rights be respected, and that the province follow the rules laid out in the environmental assessment process.
“This is an example of the kinds of injustices that First Nations across the country have to contend with,” said Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “It is quite sad the province is spending so much to suppress our Treaty Rights. It is clear that the Outlet Channels project will impact communities around the Interlake Region. So, why not expend resources trying to engage and accommodate, instead of battling us in court. With that said, I am also hopeful for an improved relationship between us and the province with Heather Stefanson now sitting in the premier’s chair. This file would be a perfect place to start rebuilding that bridge.”
The report further revealed that the province brought in lawyers from downtown Vancouver and Calgary to fight the communities represented by the IRTC.
Chief Cornell McLean, of Lake Manitoba First Nation and Chairman of the IRTC, adds, “Clearly, we are David fighting Goliath. I actually believe that double that money has been spent so far. The amount stated in the report is for external lawyers that the province brought in. If you combine that with the salaries of the lawyers within the Government, then it far exceeds a million dollars. Of course, this is very disappointing. All we are asking for is that meaningful consultation takes place and that environmental regulations are followed. A fraction of those million dollars would have further advanced Crown – Indigenous relationships and helped address First Nations concerns around the proposed project. But, instead, they chose to fight our communities. If these funds have been devoted to doing the right things, we probably would not be here today. It’s not too late for the province to do the right thing”.
The Interlake Reserves Tribal Council Inc. (IRTC) is a partnership of six Manitoba Interlake First Nations working together to advance our collective well-being. IRTC includes Dauphin River, Kinonjeoshtegon, Lake Manitoba, Little Saskatchewan, Peguis and Pinaymootang First Nations.