Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cree group presses for compensation

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USUALLY it's the other way around but on Wednesday, a group representing hundreds of northern Cree ratepayers who can't afford to pay their hydro bills will deliver a reminder notice that Manitoba Hydro owes them compensation.

"A group of Pimicikamak citizens from Cross Lake will arrive at Manitoba Hydro headquarters to deliver their own version of the 'friendly reminder notice' that Manitoba Hydro has sent to many homes in Cross Lake," an announcement Tuesday said.

The notice comes with a petition of a 1,000 signatures from Cross Lake residents.

A delegation hopes to hand the notice and the petition over to Manitoba Hydro's CEO Scott Thomson outside the utility's downtown office tower on Graham Avenue Wednesday morning.

A spokesman for Manitoba Hydro said Tuesday the group is welcome to stage its event but Thomson won't attend. Meanwhile, the utility is currently working with the First Nation's chief and council on the issue of the arrears and won't be opening separate negotiations with the protesters.

Hydro mailed out 280 disconnection warnings over the past year, which the Cross Lake group is using to draw public attention to entrenched grievances against the utility over past hydro development, the group's spokesman Tommy Monias said.

The two have been at odds since a modern day treaty over hydro development in the north, known as the Northern Flood Agreement, was signed in 1977.

The compensation agreement has seen more than $100 million in payments to Cross Lake as of 2007, according to Manitoba Hydro's website. The utility still spends $5 million to $6 million there a year.

Pimicikamak Cree maintain the terms of the NFA were never properly honoured.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 19, 2013 A6

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