Immediate Release: “Governments Failed Us” During State of Emergency in Manitoba

November 1, 2019

Interlake Reserves Tribal Council First Nations: “Governments Failed Us” During State of Emergency in Manitoba

The Interlake Reserves Tribal Council (IRTC) and its member communities haven’t ended the declared State of Emergency yet, as the communities are still getting conflicting messages from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) on response and recovery costs.

“We have yet to hear back formally on the costs of response that are eligible for reimbursement, as each community is out of pocket a significant amount. When the ISC Regional Office met with us, they shared what was eligible and what wasn’t eligible, but it wasn’t really clear. A lack of clear-cut guidelines and miscommunication from ISC’s Regional Directors are examples of a regional regime that seems to set us up for failure and continues to push pre-decided solutions, rather than having true consultation with us.” Chairman Cornell McLean said.

The IRTC is of the opinion that the current federal and provincial governments failed us.

Chairman Cornell McLean says, “The current policy framework and lack of planning by both federal and provincial governments shows us that there is inferior planning by ISC when compared to municipalities, and the process engaged when they declare an emergency.  Even though no one is ever fully prepared for an emergency crisis, the IRTC really stepped up during this event.  I’d like to thank all the staff and leadership that worked together tirelessly during this difficult time to ensure our people got the supports that were required.  I also understand that communities and organizations like the IRTC are out of pocket millions of dollars.”

IRTC CEO Karl Zadnik maintains, “We’ve decided to go straight to Ottawa to deal with this, because, regionally, the department of ISC has been very hard to deal with and unorganized i administering their policies and communicating them to us clearly.  When a community is being repatriated back, it is supposed to be built back better, not worse.  I understand why our Chiefs are frustrated with the lack of planning and the restrictive framework around policies administered by Indigenous Services Canada.”

IRTC’s member communities are expecting to lift the State of Emergency soon. However, one community, the Dauphin River First Nation was just repatriated on October 30, 2019, so damages are still yet to be determined as well as the feasibility to live there, given the current state of homes and inland flooding.

For immediate questions or concerns please contact CEO, Karl Zadnik, via email:

For Immediate Release: October 15, 2019

Interlake Reserves Tribal Council and its staff are working very hard in this emergency management situation. Our heart felt prayers to all those affected. We have been working 12-16 hour shifts to ensure our community members are housed in proper lodging requirements. We ask everyone to be patient during these times.

In some situations, we have had hotels that only were available for 2-3 nights and we are looking at alternative hotel arrangements for those needing them to carry them through. Red Cross is now taking in the new lodging requirements, with priorities focused on, people with medical conditions, the elderly, and parents with children. However, IRTC is trying to find more hotel rooms for those needing them that were originally housed with our arrangements.

Cornell McLean goes on to add, “our communities have been told that October 20,2019 hydro should be back on. I have to comment that IRTC and Red Cross have been working well together to address our emergency needs. While there is no perfect solution, we have been working on the clock non-stop to ensure our people and their needs are taken care of. We continue to look at solutions in this situation so that proper care is administered”.

Red Cross and IRTC continue to collaborate and work together for solutions in these trying times.

For any further questions or concerns please contact Karl Zadnik, Director of Health

Via email:

For Immediate Release: Communities in State of Emergency

Interlake Reserves Tribal Council and its member communities: Dauphin River First Nation, Kinonjeoshtegon First Nation, Lake Manitoba First Nation, Little Saskatchewan First Nation, Peguis First Nation, and Pinaymootang First Nation are declaring a state of emergency from the recent and current snow storm underway.

Chairman Cornell McLean shares that “our communities are vulnerable in natural disasters such as these, we cannot wait 72 hours to declare a state of emergency. Especially elders and parents with children. Our tribal council and member communities has led these emergency management developments for years and we have determined this is the time to declare.

”IRTC has been in contact with each community assessing the current damage and needs, the most common themes of being power outages, broken power lines and hydro poles, as well as elders, parents with little children such in the cold with no heat and electricity. Roads are also blocked and covered with snow. We have been organized and working well with each communities leadership to assess needs and respond. “Karl Zadnik, Executive Director.

Chief McLean goes on to add both governments have to focus on our emergency needs and work with us to address these concerns. We are open and committed to working with all levels.

For any questions or immediate concerns please contact Karl Zadnik, email:

Thank You To Our Sponsors – 3rd Annual Golf Tournament

On behalf of the Interlake Reserves Tribal Council (IRTC), we would like to thank you for your generous support and sponsorship for our 3rd Annual Fundraising Golf Tournament held on June 6, 2019.

The golf tournament was a success. The weather was perfect, and everyone enjoyed themselves. Your sponsorship has truly made this year’s tournament fun for all.

We were able to distribute a total of $12,000 to our Member First Nation Communities to be distributed to their top students.

It is in our sincere hope that you will join us again in 2020 where we create an even bigger and better event.

If you have any questions regarding sponsorship, monetary or merchandise donation or registration, please contact Donna Hall at (204) 956-7413.


AFN Supports Supports the Interlake Reserves Tribal Council Demand for Consultations for the Outlet Channel Project in Manitoba

TTAWAJune 12, 2019 /CNW/ – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde fully supports Interlake Reserves Tribal Council (IRTC) in its demand that the Government of Manitoba halt all work on the Outlet Channel Project around Lake St. Martin. The IRTC states that there was an agreement with Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister to consult with First Nations that is not being honoured.

“I fully support the position of Interlake Reserves Tribal Council that the Government of Manitobato consult with the First Nations affected by the Outlet Channel Project,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “The construction of the Outlet directly affects their lands and livelihoods and that means First Nations have a right to be consulted. We must ensure these rights are respected, upheld and honoured by the Crown, and that includes the right to free, prior and informed consent as set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

In 2017, Premier Pallister promised that consultations with Indigenous communities on the Outlet Channels Project would be the most comprehensive in the history of Manitoba, and committed to the affected communities that they would share in the economic opportunities arising from construction of the project. The IRTC has discovered a 23-kilometre route in the Interlake was cleared in preparation for a channel from Lake St. Martin to Lake Winnipeg, but were not informed by the government of Manitoba and are not aware if the necessary approvals were obtained.

“Despite a written agreement, the Government of Manitoba has stopped all funding for consultations with the Interlake Reserves Tribal Council and our member communities” says IRTC Chairman and Chief Cornell McLean of Lake Manitoba First Nation. “Since January 2018, the province’s actions don’t look like the actions of a government that has a genuine commitment to consult with Indigenous communities.”

Karl Zadnik, IRTC Chief Executive Officer, stated: “The government of Manitoba illegally cleared the right-of-way for the channel, even before the environmental assessment has been filed, and they refuse to start the necessary traditional land use studies.”

“We have been pushing for more than a year for resources to start the studies necessary to assess the impacts of the Channels Project on our Treaty and Aboriginal rights,” said Chief Cornell McLean. “These studies must be included in Environmental Impact Statement. Without these studies, the Project cannot move forward. We do not understand why the Province is refusing to undertake these studies. We are tired of attending meetings where nothing is moving forward and we are fed platitudes by the Province, with actions on the ground that don’t match. Frankly, the province is setting itself up for failure on this Channel Project.”

The IRTC says there has been no funding for Traditional Land Use (TLU) studies or consultations with First Nations for about two years. The TLU studies are required by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to proceed with the work on the Outlet Channel Project. The IRTC states that Right of Way clearing and other work has taken place prior to impact assessment without any consultation with First Nations.

Canada supports Interlake Reserves Tribal Council efforts to combat climate change risks

From: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

February 13, 2019 — Winnipeg, MANITOBA — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Climate change is one of the greatest collective challenges Canada faces as a nation. The Government of Canada is committed to working in partnership with First Nation communities to tackle climate change, grow the economy, and ensure a more sustainable and prosperous future for Canada.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced an investment of $814,000 to the Interlake Reserves Tribal Council to help reduce risks from climate-related hazards such as flooding and wildfires.

With this investment, the Interlake Reserves Tribal Council is undertaking a Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment to support the development of an emergency management framework to mitigate extreme flooding events within its six First Nation communities. These communities are: Dauphin River First Nation, Kinonjeoshtegon First Nation, Lake Manitoba First Nation, Little Saskatchewan First Nation, Peguis First Nation, and Pinaymootang First Nation.

The First Nation Adapt program provides funding to First Nation communities located below the 60th parallel to assess and respond to climate change impacts on community infrastructure and emergency management.

“The impacts of climate change are not in the distant future, they have arrived. The Government of Canada is proud to partner with Interlake Reserves Tribal Council in taking important steps to plan for and adapt to the new realities in our environment.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“Interlake Reserves Tribal Council and its 6 member communities have been at the fore front when dealing with emergency management and the natural disasters caused by climate change. In 2011 our communities were flooded out by a man made emergency outlet channel to save the City of Winnipeg and we were the ones impacted. With this initiative not only will we be able plan and prepare but combined with our Emergency Operations this will help us become even more resilient. We also want to partner with nearby towns and municipalities to help everyone in the region

Chief Cornell McLean
Chairman of Interlake Reserves Tribal Council

Quick facts

  • The First Nation Adapt Program is part of a Budget 2016 commitment to provide $129.5 million over five years to seven federal departments and agencies to implement programming focused on building the science base to inform decision-making, on protecting the health and well-being of Canadians, on building resilience in the North and Indigenous communities, and on enhancing competitiveness in key economic sectors.
  • The First Nation Adapt program is currently supporting nine community projects in Manitoba First Nations in 2018-2019 with investments of approximately $1.5 million.

IRTC Takes Stand Against Province of Manitoba

OTTAWADec. 4, 2018 /CNW/ – Interlake Reserves Tribal Council (IRTC) and its member First Nations are disappointed and feel betrayed by Premier Pallister’s recent comments on First Nation consultations on the Outlet Channel Project.

Chief Cornell McLean of Lake Manitoba First Nation, and Chairman for the IRTC states, “If the Premier is serious about getting the Channels Project built quickly, he needs to spend less time making inflammatory statements to the media and more time recommitting his government to partnering with First Nations on the planning and construction of the Project. We haven’t had a meaningful discussion with Province for over a year about this Project.”

In 2017, the Premier promised consultations with Indigenous communities on the Outlet Channels Project would be the most comprehensive in the history of Manitoba and committed that affected communities would share in the economic opportunities arising from the construction of the Project.

Chief McLean explained, “We are starting to see that these may have been empty promises. We were left out of the most recent Project design and build contract awarded by the Province of Manitoba. Time and time again our communities have borne the brunt of flooding. The Outlet Channels Project is no different: our communities’ – the original Ojibwe/Saulteaux Nation – fishing, hunting and continued land and water use will be adversely impacted by the Project.”

Chief McLean continued: “It is frustrating to watch the provincial and federal governments play politics with the Outlet Channels Project, instead of focusing their energy on working with our member communities: Lake Manitoba First Nation, Pinaymootang First Nation, Dauphin River First Nation, Kinonjeoshtegon First Nation, Peguis First Nation, and Little Saskatchewan First Nation. Issues with the devastation caused by the 2011 and 2014 floods still remain unresolved. We all need to make sure that First Nations rights and interests are not ignored in the development of the Channels Project.”

Karl Zadnik, CEO of IRTC says “To avoid the mistakes of the past, it is vital that the Environmental Assessment for the Project include an impact assessment on our Treaty and Aboriginal rights, including fishing, water quality, and an overall cultural impact assessment. Until this is done, the Project can’t be approved by the federal or provincial governments. Yet, the Province and CEAA have so far refused to dedicate sufficient resources to do these studies.”

Chief McLean goes on to say: “We have tried to work with the Province, but our requests have largely fallen on deaf ears. In the meantime, our leadership will continue to work to make sure that the Channels Project does not proceed until the impacts on our rights and on the fishery our people depend on are understood, mitigated and accommodated.”

SOURCE: Interlake Reserves Tribal Council (IRTC)

Media Contact :
Karl Zadnik, BComm(Hons), PM Cert.,
Chief Executive Officer,
Interlake Reserves Tribal Council,
Cell: (204) 795-4747,

Fire Prevention Week: Fire Safety Tips

Home Fire Escape Planning

  • Home fire escape planning and drills are an essential part of fire safety. A home fire escape plan needs to be developed and practised before a fire strikes.
  • A home escape plan should include the following:
    • Two exits from every room in the home – usually a door and a window
    • Properly installed and working smoke alarms
    • A meeting place outside in front of the home where everyone will meet after they exit
    • A call to 9-1-1 or the local emergency number from a cell phone or a neighbor’s phone

Smoke Alarms

  • Smoke alarms detect and alert people to a fire in the early stages. Smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death in a fire.
  • Working smoke alarms cut in half the risk of dying in a home fire.
  • Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
  • Make sure everyone in the home understands the sound of the smoke alarm and knows how to respond.


  • Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly and stay in the home.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stovetop.


  • Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires during the winter months.
  • Space heaters are the type of equipment most often involved in home heating equipment fires.
  • All heaters need space. Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet (1 metre) away from heating equipment.
  • Have a 3-foot (1 metre) “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters
  • Purchase and use only portable space heaters listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Have a qualified professional install heating equipment.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional.

IRTC Sponsors Men’s WarriorZ Basketball team for 2018 Masters Indigenous Games

August 7, 2018 (Winnipeg, Manitoba)

The Interlake Reserves Tribal Council sponsored the Men’s WarriorZ Basketball team to enter the 2018 Masters Indigenous Games (MIG) held in Toronto, ON; on July 12-15. This team ended up winning the Gold Medal and is now the 2018 MIG Champions of North America.

“This was an opportunity to put the best of Manitoba’s Indigenous Basketball community together to represent Manitoba on a National and International stage in the Basketball sport.” Says Chairman Chief Cornell McLean.  “ He also shared “We had representatives from nine (9) different First Nation communities in Manitoba and the nice thing about this team is the WarriorZ basketball team wants to give back to all of IRTC member communities, in the form of basketball camps to produce the best Indigenous athletes in basketball.”

Karl Zadnik, CEO and Pinaymootang First Nation member for IRTC as well as team member for the WarriorZ basketball team shares “this is close to my heart, Basketball was a form of sport that kept me out of trouble in my teenage years and it feels good to help future leaders produce more leaders in sport and athletics. Coming from Point Douglas and Elmwood neighborhoods, this is a sport that can help develop future Manitoba basketball athletes so we support this.  Stay tuned for WarriorZ basketball camps held here in Manitoba!”

For questions or future enquiries please contact Karl Zadnik, Chief Executive Officer at

Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels Announced

The governments of Canada and Manitoba announced they will cost share up to $540million in new flood management infrastructure for Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin outlet channels as Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources Canada, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, announced today.

Federal funding of $247.5 million will be provided for the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels Project, the first project to be funded under the recently launched Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund. Manitoba will provide matching funds in the amount of $247.5 million, plus an additional $45 million in order to complete the project.

“After 60 years of inaction, we are proud to stand today alongside our partners in the federal government to announce this vital project,” says Pallister. “We are focused on completing this project in a timely fashion to better protect Manitobans who have sacrificed so much.”

The governments of Canada and Manitoba identified the channels project as a major priority, due to severe flooding in the area in 2011 and 2014. These disasters resulted in extensive damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure in the province, as well as emergency evacuations, particularly for communities around Lake St. Martin.

“The funding shows that the Government of Canada is taking concrete steps to protect the vulnerable communities around Lake Manitoba, and Lake St. Martin, from disasters like the 2011 and 2014 floods,” says Carr. “Mitigating the effects of natural hazards before they happen is critical to reducing the devastating social, personal and economic costs of recovering after the fact. With investments like these, we will make communities across Canada more resilient to climate change, and ensure residents and businesses can thrive for generations to come.”

During times of flooding and high-water levels on Lake Manitoba, the new outlet channel will carry water directly from Lake Manitoba to Lake St. Martin. The Fairford River is the natural outlet to Lake St. Martin and the new channel will move water directly to Lake Winnipeg.  The Dauphin River is the natural outlet to Lake Winnipeg from Lake St. Martin.

The project consists of building two 23-kilometre-long diversion channels. The Lake Manitoba Outlet Channel will run north from Watchorn Bay on Lake Manitoba to Birch Bay on Lake St. Martin and the Lake St. Martin Outlet Channel will run northeast from Lake St. Martin to Lake Winnipeg south of Willow Point. The project also involves building two bridges and water control structures, a 24-kilovolt distribution line, and adjusting surrounding highway infrastructure.

The project will significantly reduce the flood damage experienced by First Nations located along Lake St. Martin, complementing other regional flood protection infrastructure to ensure a more comprehensive provincial water control network that enables the province to effectively manage flows from the Assiniboine River and Lake Manitoba watersheds spanning Manitoba, southeast Saskatchewan and northeast North Dakota. Together, the channels will allow Manitoba to regulate lake levels and provide flood protection to individuals, businesses, communities and farmland around Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin. Once completed, this work will significantly enhance the region’s ability to regulate water levels on both lakes and protect local Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities from flooding.

The new Lake Manitoba outlet channel is designed with a capacity of 7,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) and the Lake St. Martin channel will carry approximately 11,500 cfs at capacity. The current capacity of the Lake St. Martin Emergency Outlet Channel is approximately 4,000 cfs. The existing single Lake St. Martin emergency channel to Lake Winnipeg will be available on an emergency basis during construction. After the permanent channels are completed, the existing emergency channel will be modified for environmental support purposes, which are still being defined and developed.

The proposed channel alignments are a result of evaluating several options for each channel. Construction of an access road to the Lake St. Martin construction area is underway.  The remainder of construction could start as soon as fall 2019.

The next phase of the Manitoba government’s proposed plans for the construction of the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin outlet channels will be presented at a series of open house sessions, Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler announced today.

“These are major flood management projects and will be as essential as the Red River Floodway and the Portage Diversion in provincial flood-fighting efforts,” said Schuler.  “Manitoba is a collection point of major watersheds that start outside of the province but can result in widespread flooding, devastation, costly cleanup and years of restoration.”

Open house topics will include environmental approvals, design and construction, and the next steps in the delivery of this major flood infrastructure project.  There will also be an opportunity to learn more about the operation of the Portage Diversion.  The diversion moves Assiniboine River water north into Lake Manitoba during heavy spring flooding and unusual summer storms

An open house session is planned from 2-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at the Canad Inns in Portage la Prairie on Thursday, June 21.

-Article Courtesy of Portage Online