The Manitoba government is developing a new $15-million fund to support Indigenous economic development opportunities related to the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels Project, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk announced.

The new fund will be administered as a proposal-based funding program, open to 39 Indigenous groups (First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs communities, and Indigenous organizations) involved in the outlet channels project. The fund will be used to support economic development opportunities related to the outlet channels, and reconciliation in alignment with the principles outlined in the Path to Reconciliation Act.

“Our government understands that concrete and constructive actions are needed to advance reconciliation and ensure Indigenous people have a meaningful voice in any decisions that may impact their traditional lands, rights or interests,” said Piwniuk. “This new fund will support the development of Indigenous-led economic opportunities and long-term economic development in the communities most impacted by the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels Project.”

The Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels Project involves building two outlet channels, each approximately 23 kilometres long, three bridges and two water-control structures, a 24-kilovolt distribution line and adjusting the surrounding highway infrastructure. The outlet channels will improve water regulation of Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin, reduce the likelihood of flooding on both lakes and lower the risk of flood-related damages, and disruption to communities in the area.

“We know we must collaborate with Indigenous communities involved in the project in the true spirit of reconciliation to ensure the success of this historic endeavour,” said Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister Alan Lagimodiere. “We look forward to ongoing collaboration to ensure the project aligns with the traditional knowledge and Indigenous understanding of the area to improve flood protection, and increase resilience against climate change for all Manitobans.”

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Prior to officially launching the fund, the province will collaborate with Indigenous communities to develop a framework for fund. This framework will be developed in collaboration with Indigenous communities involved in the project. Once the fund is officially launched, an evaluation committee made up of representatives from several government departments will review proposals with the potential to partner with other organizations to provide input to the proposal, identify additional funding sources, and support proposal development and training.

The province expects to share more details about program eligibility, the intake process, and funding agreement requirements in the coming months.

For more about the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels Project, visit www.manitoba.ca/mit/wms/lmblsmoutlets

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