Since 2010, the Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO) has been in the process of developing a plan to “twin” (double-lane) Highway 17 between the Manitoba border and Kenora as part of an effort to reduce traffic and increase road safety. MTO recognizes that Highway 17 is located on the traditional territory of the Nations of Treaty 3 and has affirmed its responsibility to consult communities who may be affected by the project.
In order to coordinate their shared experience, concerns, and interests, the Nations of Shoal Lake 40, Obashkaandagaang, Niisaachewan, and Wauzhushk Onigum signed the Unity Agreement in October of 2018. This agreement marks the beginning of the Niiwin Wendaanimok (‘Four Winds’) Partnership.
In the spirit of reconciliation, MTO has agreed to partnering with the Niiwin Wendaanimok moving forward on the twinning project. Although the nature and terms of this partnership are still being negotiated, it means the Niiwin Wendaanimok will consult its own people to understand potential social, environmental, and cultural impacts, provide its own reporting, and directly contribute to future decisions on the project.
To keep community members informed of project developments, the Niiwin Wendaanimok will provide monthly updates through this newsletter. Read on to learn more about the project, who our Community Coordinators are, and how you can get involved.