WINNIPEG – ANISHINABEK – “On my way to Sapotaweyak Cree Nation to drop off supplies and offer words of support to Chief Genaille and the people,” states Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Grand Chief Derek Nepinak. “The Bi-pole project traversing through the territory has not earned the trust of the people. The project has been tied into the ‘divide and conquer’ economics that Hydro has used so well in advancing their development interests in our ancestral lands”.
“Our people are not against opportunity, nor are we against someone else’s pursuit of prosperity. The question however that emerges is to what cost are we willing to compromise relationships not just between ourselves and our neighbours, but between ourselves and the lands that have always sustained us”, added the Grand Chief.
AMC Grand Chief Derek Nepinak is visiting the camp of the Sapotaweyak Cree Nation today as they challenge proprietary interests in hydro development in their ancestral lands.
In recent weeks, an attempt by Chief Nelson Genaille to seek an injunction before a provincial court judge to delay the project was rejected. In light of his efforts, the community members have decided to take the protection of their ancestral lands into their own hands. The AMC has a standing mandate to support the efforts of the Sapotaweyak Cree Nation to challenge the bi-pole project to respect the original occupants of the land and the treaties that bind respectful interactions.
“I have observed divide and conquer economics being utilized by Manitoba Hydro to advance its development agenda in the ancestral lands of our people. The bi-pole line itself adds a further nuance of destruction to already significantly stressed eco-systems in the western part of Manitoba. We have seen this with the loss of the moose population and fur bearers in the region. This challenge by Sapotaweyak is supported by the Chiefs” stated Grand Chief Nepinak.
Sapotaweyak Cree Nation is located in the central west of the province of Manitoba near Lake Winnipegosis with a population of around 1000 community members living on-reserve.