Wa Ni Ska Tan: An Alliance of Hydro-Impacted Communities emerged out of three meetings and two tours of hydro-affected communities in northern Manitoba. The Alliance is shaped by the priorities of impacted Indigenous communities. Principles underlying Wa Ni Ska Tan centre on transparency, accountability, cross-cultural sensitivity, mutual respect, and consensus in decision-making.
The Overall GOAL of Wa Ni Ska Tan (Cree word for ‘Wake Up’ or ‘Rise Up’) is to explore both the positive and negative implications of hydropower for nearby environments and Indigenous communities in Manitoba and other affected regions across Canada, and to further explore how and to what degree this research alliance might enable healing as well as meaningful and desirable social and environmental change.
The research conducted focuses on the implications of and community responses to hydropower, in particular to those which relate to cross-regional and cumulative impacts. In this respect, this Alliance emphases on hydropower projects across Manitoba, and similar projects located in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Labrador. It provides also support, help and opportunities to those communities affected by hydro development. To aid cross-cultural sharing and support, Wa Ni Ska Tan networks with Indigenous communities and Partners located in other provinces.
The objective-based research themes, core activities, and key outcomes of Wa Ni Ska Tan emerged from small group discussions at two gatherings, held in Thompson, December 2014, and Opaskwayak Cree Nation, June 2015. These are as follows:
The above priorities are based on the priorities voiced by the hydro-impacted Indigenous communities. Wa Ni Ska Tan is comprised of representatives from twenty-four (24) Cree (Ininew/Inniniwak), Anishinaabe, and Métis nations; twenty-two (22) researchers; Fourteen (14) social justice and environmental NGOs. It also incorporates nine (9) universities from Canada and the United States. As well as multiple levels of government entities.