The Manitoba Métis Federation says it is prepared to go to court, if necessary, to force Manitoba Hydro to treat its people with the same respect it now affords First Nations people in the development of northern hydro generating stations, including the proposed Keeyak generating station.
At the first day of Clean Environment Commission hearings into the proposed Keeyask dam, the MMF said the Nelson River system to York Factory was one of the historic highways for the Métis as part of the fur trade network and remains important today.
"Contrary to what you’re going to hear from Manitoba Hydro and its First Nation partners throughout the hearing, the Métis , as a distinct aboriginal people, fit into that historic narrative in this region," the federation’s lawyer, Jason Madden, said today.
The Métis story in the region is not the same as those of the First Nations "but it’s no less worthy of acknowledgement, respect and consideration."
Madden likened the Métis situation to that of First Nations decades ago when "treaties weren’t worth the paper they were written on."
But through court intervention and a measure of political good will, there have been some "rebalances" for First Nations in the development of hydro, he said.
"The same indifference and arrogance that Manitoba Hydro exhibited to First Nations in the past continues towards the Manitoba Métis Federation, and you’re going to hear about that," he told the commission.
The proposed $6.2-billion Keeyask generation site is located in northern Manitoba in the Split Lake Resource Management Area. It is 725 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg on the lower Nelson River and 35 kilometres upstream of the existing Kettle Generating Station where Gull Lake flows into Stephens Lake.
First Nation partners with Hydro in the Keeyask project include: Tataskweyak, War Lake, York Factory and Fox Lake first nations.