IRTC Responds to Pallister’s media statements on the Outlet Channels Project

For Immediate Release

January 29th, 2021

The Interlake Reserves Tribal Council (IRTC) was extremely disappointed to hear the Premier’s misleading comments to Manitobans yesterday. Indigenous consultation with the Province on the Outlet Channels Project is not on track. More troubling, the Premier blatantly deceived the media at yesterday’s press conference about the Injunction rendered against his government as result of his government’s failure to take Indigenous consultation seriously.

His statement that the injunction obtained by the IRTC and four of our member First Nations was overturned on December 23, 2020 is patently false. As explained in a statement provided by our legal counsel to media: “The Court ordered injunction against the Government of Manitoba remains in place. It has not been overturned. The Province’s appeal of that injunction will be heard by the Court on February 19, 2021. The decision of December 23, 2020 referred to by the Premier concerned a procedural application by others to obtain intervener status in the appeal. This court decision in no way affects the substance of the injunction”.

We call on the Province to roll up its sleeves and get down work on conducting the necessary environmental studies and start co-operating instead of fighting our Nations. Time and again, the IRTC has stated its commitment to working with the Province as equal partners on this project. But our commitment has been met with disrespect by the Province.

Echoing his commitment to work with the province, Karl Zadnik, Chief Executive Officer, IRTC, said: “We want to work with the federal government directly on a contribution agreement that acknowledges us, the directly impacted First Nations from IRTC, so we can ensure we’re accommodated properly”. He went on: “The Premier’s statement about protecting our communities from climate change impacts are misleading. While we believe in the science of climate change, Manitoba’s misguided policies have led to our lands being consistently flooded, led to destruction of fish and fish habitat, led to draining of wetlands, and so on.”

Chief Cornell Mclean, Chairman of the IRTC, reiterated that “doing the right thing is never too late. The Premier and his Ministers should learn from the past, and work cooperatively with us, while respecting our Treaty Rights”.

These issues were discussed at a meeting with the federal Minister of Infrastructure, the Hon. Minister Mckenna last week. At that meeting, the Chiefs presented their concerns around the Province’s unwillingness to work with First Nations and address the impacts the Project will have on our land and our people. To resolve these, Karl Zadnik pointed out that “we need to explore ways around these issues, we need to respect protocols. We are willing to be partners, one hundred percent, if the concerns of our First Nations are properly accommodated”

For more info contact: Karl Zadnik, IRTC Chief Executive Officer at 204-795-4747