From Both Ends of the Pipe: A Conversation

ANGELINA MCLEOD is Anishinaabe kwe from Shoal Lake 40 First Nation in Treaty 3. Ange is a Water and Land Defender.
CHUCK WRIGHT is a white settler living in Treaty 1 territory, Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is a full-time member of the Indigenous Peoples Solidarity team of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).

Upon invitation to contribute to this issue, Ange and Chuck got together for coffee to discuss the relevance of the Doctrine of Discovery to the experience of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, and what it might mean for Winnipeggers and churches today. Winnipeg receives its drinking water from Shoal Lake through a 135-kilometre aqueduct, and an historic dispossession that remains unresolved to this day. Here are some snippets from this conversation.

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When you turn on the TAP… pray for the GAP

When we turn on the TAP… pray for the GAP

• Thank God for our clean water.
• Ask God to inspire action to close the gaps that keep lives at risk.
• Pray for our leaders’ wisdom and cooperation in honouring our solemn undertakings to the people whose lands and resources we have appropriated.
• Pray for the health and safety of the good people of Shoal Lake 40.

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Freedom Road: From Charity to Responsibility

If you were to walk down the streets of Winnipeg and ask random people where their water comes from, and they were to respond with, “Shoal Lake,” I would be proud. If those strangers were then to go on to explain that Winnipeg’s water extraction has caused the forced isolation and boil water advisory of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, I would be amazed. That would mean that the work of Shoal Lake 40 advocates over the past 100 years has finally paid off. It would mean that settler allies of Shoal Lake 40 have played their small part in bringing awareness to those living on the other end of the aqueduct.

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Road to Reconciliation: Reflections on the Freedom Road Campaign

Article by Samantha Klassen (Students for Freedom Road Leader)

…Something that I have noticed about our culture is that sometimes we think we are “participating” in something important because we read the article, watch the video, and re-tweet it. But as we went through the tour it became increasingly clear to me that nothing – not photographs, HD video, or newspaper coverage – can replace being present with people, being present to a place. The city councillors knew about SL40 and about the injustice, but as Stewart Redsky emphasized, this was “seeing and feeling” learning. This was empathy in practice. You could read about the issue all you wanted, and care or not, but once you have shared space with the people of SL40, seen their living conditions, and felt their grief, what you read no longer matters. All that matters is getting the work done so that the injustice can be ended.

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Momentum Building for Shoal Lake 40’s Freedom Road

By: Chuck Wright (Christian Peacemaker Teams)
& Christie McLeod (Mondetta Charity Foundation)

Recent announcements from the Mayor’s office and a journey with City Councillors and supporters to Shoal Lake 40 confirm that with demonstrable public support, the construction of an all-weather access road dubbed “Freedom Road” may happen as soon as this winter – which in Chief Erwin Redsky’s words is “a matter of survival… [and] a matter of our most basic human rights.”

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Report on City Councillors’ Trip to Shoal Lake 40 First Nation

… we are well on our way to a new and mutually flourishing relationship with our good neighbours at Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. I’m praying that this can be a symbol and model of a sea change in relations between First Nations and Settler peoples across the country. Freedom Road is not in itself mutuality; it only makes mutuality possible. It is not in itself reconciliation; it is a road to reconciliation. There is still so much repair to be done. But this is not an insignificant step.

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Lessons From Bono and George Bush re: Shoal Lake 40 Freedom Road

Here’s the story as I heard it…

At the height of the AIDS crisis over a decade ago, Bono met with George W. Bush asking him to commit a rather large amount of money to help in the fight against AIDS in Africa. Apparently President Bush was sincerely empathetic and agreed that the U.S. should do something significant, but informed Bono that he couldn’t just unilaterally write a cheque. He suggested, however, that if Bono would go out and create a demonstration of public support for such a move, President Bush then could, and would, respond to the public demonstration.

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Petition to City of Winnipeg

As citizens of the fair city of Winnipeg, we respectfully ask that His Worship Mayor Bowman and our City Counsellors ensure funds be committed in the 2016 budget, and do whatever is necessary to ensure that construction of Freedom Road for Shoal Lake 40 can begin immediately upon completion of the jointly developed design.

It’s time to move from commitment in principle to commitment in deed.
It’s the right thing to do!

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Give Thanks

This Thanksgiving, I encourage you and your loved ones to thank our Creator for our fresh water supply. As you do that, will you also remember our neighbours at Shoal Lake 40 First Nation who do not share that same privilege?

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Freedom Road MP Candidate Survey

For those who would like to consider the issue of Freedom Road in their decision-making for the upcoming Federal election, we surveyed the candidates for Manitoba and South-Western Ontario to ask if they would personally pledge their support for the building of a provincial grade all-weather road linking Shoal Lake 40 First Nation with the Trans-Canada Highway… Below are the results, sorted by party and then riding.

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