One week, eight communities. A whirl-wind northern tour of hydro-affected communities. This year’s tour was the third of its kind and took place from June 6th to 12th. Facilitated by Peter Kulchyski, this year saw thirteen students, researchers, and artists visit Grand Rapids, Norway House Cree Nation, Pimicikamak Cree Nation (Cross Lake), Gillam, Tataskwayak Cree Nation (Split Lake), South Indian Lake, Leaf Rapids and Nelson House.
Despite the speed of the trip, the impacts of hydro development on the communities was not lost on the group. Out on the water in Norway House and Nelson House, we were silent witnesses as we passed eroded shorelines and falling trees. The stories told by Gerald McKay in Grand Rapids, Robert Spence in Split Lake, Darrel Suttee in Pimicikamak, and Les Dysart in South Indian Lake were tragic reminders of the environmental, cultural, and societal destruction that is still being felt in the communities. Driving along what used to be Noah Massan’s trapline, the dust from construction of the new highway to Keeyask was blinding. The wildlife is clearly gone. The destruction of the environment, on such as massive scale, was shocking.
The hydro tour was an eye-opening education about the role that Hydro plays in northern communities. It was sad and exhausting, but there were also amazing moments of connection, new friendships, great food, and laughter. Below is just a brief glimpse of our week in Northern Manitoba.