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‘An abundance of prosperity’: Manitoba Indigenous communities announce infrastructure plans for northern Manitoba

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Members of several Indigenous communities in Manitoba have announced a partnership to develop significant infrastructure projects in the north.


Leaders in Treaty 5 territory, which encompasses 37 First Nations communities and includes large parts of northern Manitoba and part of Saskatchewan and Ontario in its borders, announced the new coalition on Wednesday, with a goal of owning and operating an energy corridor that will run several large projects.


The project will be named the Wáwátéwák Corridor, a Cree word meaning northern lights, and will eventually grow to involve First Nations communities in northern Saskatchewan and Alberta.


“This is a historic moment for Treaty 5,” said Chief Clarence Easter from Chemanawin Cree Nation. “This has the potential to change the present and the future of our nations in a good way and provide an abundance of prosperity.


“It’s high time we turn the tide on widespread poverty, and create opportunities for our people not just to survive, but to thrive.”


The corridor will support multiple infrastructure projects, with the first being a high-voltage direct current electrical power transmission line, which will allow line power to become available to communities in Northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The corridor will also support a fibre-optic network, an all-weather road and a pipeline to transport Alberta hydrogen to tidewater in Churchill, according to a release.


Easter said the transmission line will be between 850 and 1,200 kilometres in length, and construction costs are estimated to be around $4 to $5 billion for the electric line, the fibre-optic network and the all-weather road. The estimated completion time is three to four years. Easter said all components of the corridor are expected to be completed within 10 years.


Mark Sweeny, president of the project, said it will create more than 1,000 jobs throughout the construction period for the first phase and will provide 200 to 400 full-time jobs once completed.


“The expenditures undertaken by Treaty 5 members will create a permanent increase in demand for goods and services in Manitoba,” Sweeney said, noting that the community is expected to make money from power sales.

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