Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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Sagkeeng First Nation rejects $200-million settlement with Manitoba Hydro

Winnipeg Free Press

Sagkeeng First Nation voted to reject a $200-million settlement this weekend over damage related to dams on the Winnipeg River.

Manitoba Hydro included the compensation as part of larger deal that would have transferred ownership of 190 acres rich in archeological history to the First Nation.

Sagkeeng, 145 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, holds traditional lands claims to territory in the Winnipeg River watershed.

The deal updated an earlier accord with Manitoba Hydro that had expired in 2006. The rejected deal would have extended and expanded on the earlier accord, and expired in 2046.

The Sagkeeng First Nation is expected to make a public statement today.

Out of the community of 7,500, some 385 residents cast the ballots that killed the tentative accord, the Free Press learned. Sources said the voters demanded free hydro in return for voting in favour of the deal, a condition Manitoba Hydro has never been known to approve.

The 1997 accord, which included a $3.2-million settlement, reconciled impacts from the operation of the Pine Falls, Great Falls, McArthur Falls and Seven Sisters dams and generating stations. It ran 10 years, expiring in 2006.

The new deal was described as a renewed accord on the Sagkeeng website. The $200 million was to be carefully regulated in a trust fund. The land included spiritually significant sites at the junction of the Winnipeg and Whitemouth rivers. There were also terms for future development, including contract work, shoreline protection and other measures.

For the first time, the deal also included compensation for historic impacts caused by Slave Falls and Pointe du Bois generating stations that were acquired by Manitoba Hydro in 2002 and not included in the 1997 accord, as well as the future impacts of all six generating stations and dams until the accord ended in 2046.

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