Niiwin Wendaanimok Partnership Gives Conditional Consent to Ontario for Highway Twinning
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The leadership of Wauzhushk Onigum Nation , Shoal Lake #40 First Nation , Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation , and Washagamis Bay First Nation, Ontario , collectively known as the Niiwin Wendaanimok Partnership, are pleased to announce they are prepared to give Ontario conditional consent to enter their territory under their guidance to undertake construction of Phase 1 of the TransCanada Highway 17 Twinning Project.
The leadership of Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation, and Washagamis Bay First Nation, collectively known as the NIIWIN WENDAANIMOK PARTNERSHIP, are pleased to announce they are prepared to give Ontario conditional consent to enter their territory under their guidance to undertake construction of Phase 1 of the TransCanada Highway 17 Twinning Project. Should Ontario agree, Cabinet Ministers have been invited to participate in a sacred ceremony in late April, under the sacred law and guidance of the Manito Aki Inaakonigaawin. This consent is given on the condition that Ontario honour the legally binding commitments it has made to the Niiwin Wendaanimok Partnership.
Over the last several months, the Niiwin Wendaanimok and representatives of the Ministry of Transportation Ontario have been in constructive discussions regarding this project. The goal of these discussions has been on building a good, ongoing relationship. “The past relationship has been genocidal for the Anishinaabeg. More recently it hasn’t worked for anyone. But now these discussions have been guided by Manito Aki Inaakonigaawin, the sacred law of the Earth. We have been guided by the principles of Weweni (Take our time), Bebeka (doing it right), Biiziindun (listen), and Kegotachken (do not be afraid)”, said Chief Chris Skead, Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation. “We have conducted ourselves with respect, honour, love, courage, humility, wisdom, and truth.”
While the collective work and commitments to future generations under the sacred law of the Manito Aki Inaakonigaawin will never be completed, the Anishinaabeg are taking important first steps to ensure and implement commitments. “This process has seen several creative solutions to working together in a continuing relationship. We’ve conducted a ground-breaking harmonized process for understanding environmental impacts and mitigation measures. We’re establishing an Anishinaabe Guardians Program and contracts and opportunities that set the foundation for the economies of the Anishinaabeg”, said Chief Vernon Redsky, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. “We have revived a process that we know works, an Anishinaabe approach we have always known can work for the benefit of all.”
Phase 1 will see twinning of the TransCanada Highway from Manitoba/Ontario border to Highway 673 and is anticipated to start fall of 2021. By respecting our sacred law and protocols, MTO is demonstrating that it is possible for us to work together. While we have a long way to go, and together we know that we can, if we take our time and do things right” said Chief Marilyn Sinclair, Washagamis Bay First Nation. Phases 2 and 3 are planned to extend from the Highway 673 to Kenora, but consent from the Anishinaabeg for Phases 2 and 3 is still pending.
In compliance with the sacred law of the Manito Aki Inaakonigaawin and to mark this important commitment to each other, Ontario will be required to participate in a ceremony to be held in late April to confirm the parties’ understandings of this sacred relationship, and for Ontario to receive the Harmonized Impact Assessment so it may proceed with filing its environmental study. “From time immemorial, our Elders have relied on the Manito Aki Inaakonigaawin – our Great Earth Law to guide decisions in our territory. When we follow the laws of the Earth, the laws of the Creator, when we make decisions through ceremony, we know these are good decisions”, said Chief Lorraine Cobiness, Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation. “Its time to do things right, its time to rebuild our economies”.