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Report of the Panel of Public Enquiry Into Northern Hydro Development

Smith, C. Rhodes
Publisher:  Inter Church Task Force on Northern Flooding, Winnipeg, Canada
Year Published:  1977  
Pages:  90pp   Price:  $2.00  
Resource Type:  Article

Report describing the evidence to the public enquiry concerning the Nelson-Churchill River Diversion of Northern Manitoba.

Abstract:  In this document C. Rhodes Smith, a retired Chief Justice for the Province of Manitoba, describes the evidence presented to the panel of public enquiry into the Nelson-Churchill River Diversion of Northern Manitoba. This evidence was obtained by three days of hearings in Winnipeg and one day at Nelson House, a community which will bear the brunt of the damage caused by the project. The panel consisted of several Manitoba clergy who used this forum to actively support the Native communicaties and to confront the provincial government on the issue. The government is firmly committed to the energy resource development scheme and states that the damage to native communities is only a short-term nature. Views expressed by memebers of these communities differ markedly from those of the politicians. Indians and Metis who spoke to the panel were fearful that the development would destroy their whole life-style. By asking several specific questions about social and environmental costs, legal rights of the Natives and the breakdown in communication with the government, the panel probed the reasons for the Natives' fears and their distrust of both the provincial government and Manitoba Hydro. As a result, the panel made several recommendations which would entail a drastic change in the government's northern policy. These recommendations include adequate compensation, improvement in the viability in the traditional life-style and better methods of mitigating the damage. Another important recommendation relates to future large-scale developments which could easily become just as disasaterous as long as public input into the decision-making process is discouraged.

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