The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, announced this week that the Government of Canada will be an equal partner with the Province of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg to ensure Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation constructs Freedom Road.

Minister Bennett aid that Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada will match the Province of Manitoba’s and the City of Winnipeg’s commitments to fund one-third of the estimated $30 million project to construct an approximately 24-kilometre all-season road from Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation to the Trans-Canada Highway in Manitoba. The announcement was made at a meeting of the Shoal Lake No. 40 Tripartite Agreement Committee at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg.

In a statement released by the government, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett said,”Partnering with the Province of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg to help Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation build Freedom Road is both long overdue and the right thing to do. When completed, Freedom Road will provide the First Nation’s residents with increased mobility and help unlock economic opportunities for the community.”

“We welcome the Government of Canada to our partnership with the Province of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg to finally secure the access we have lacked for so long,” said Chief Erwin Redsky of Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation. “Our situation is unique and requires creative problem-solving. We thank the governments of Canada, Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg for their commitments and their willingness to collaborate with our community.”

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The federal announcement signifies a commitment from all three levels of government to share the costs, up to $1 million each, for the design work of Freedom Road. That work is underway and is expected to be completed in spring 2016.

The Shoal Lake 40 First Nation has now endured a 17-year boil water advisory—one of the longest in Canada—and have been forced to use bottled water. The federal government has pledged to resolve water quality issues across all the First Nations communities that are under boil water advisory.

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