Reconciling Hydro with a climate-friendly future
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This article was published 23/07/2021 (679 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In the last few months, Fort Rouge residents have been profoundly impacted by the disclosures of the graves around former residential schools. I’ve been encouraged to see Fort Rouge residents putting in the time to learn about the legacy of residential schools, engaging in hard conversations, and committing to working toward reconciliation. I’ve also been moved by all the orange shirts in people’s windows. It’s caused many of us to talk about what we can do to advance reconciliation.
In order to move forward with reconciliation here in Manitoba, the provincial government needs to acknowledge the past and ongoing harm Hydro projects have had on Indigenous communities and commit to working in full partnership alongside these communities to address the harms of the past, fight climate change together, and create a clean energy future for everyone.
But instead of working alongside Indigenous communities to create long-term jobs and clean energy solutions, this Progressive Conservative government is making decisions about Hydro rates behind closed doors and has approved what are called final licences over the objections of affected First Nations.
Communities such as Tataskweyak Cree Nation and O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation are concerned about damage to their territories and to the fishery that drives their economies. They say Hydro operations cause water levels to fluctuate to such an extent that these damages are real and ongoing. This is on top of historic impacts. We must also keep in mind the impacts of Hydro developments in other parts of the province.
Recently the PCs announced they were choosing to raise Hydro rates for the second time during the pandemic by 2.5 per cent every year for the next three years. Not only will this make life more expensive for Manitobans, if the average family loses confidence in Hydro because of a lack of Public Utilities Board oversight, we will lose the social licence necessary to move forward on reconciling Hydro’s effects on Indigenous communities and solving climate change.
The good news is if we keep Manitoba Hydro strong and public, we can keep rates affordable while also using Hydro to advance our goals in fighting global warming and cultivating respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples.
That’s our plan for Manitoba Hydro – tell me what you think by contacting my office at 204-615-1922 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fort Rouge constituency report
Wab Kinew is the NDP MLA for Fort Rouge and leader of the Manitoba New Democratic Party.