“Manitoba Hydro: How to Build a Legacy of Hatred,” by Peter Kulchyski, was first published in Canadian Dimension and has subsequently been circulated by people opposed to the proposed Wuskwatim hydroelectric project planned to be built in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation’s Resource Management Area, in northern Manitoba.
Northern Manitoba, with some of the oldest “contact” history on the North American continent, owing to its central position in the English fur trade, has over the last century become a Canadian backwater, rarely gaining attention even in alternative news sources. Although a crucial struggle took place in the seventies over hydroelectric development, the entire Aboriginal community of South Indian Lake relocated as a result of planned flooding, the conflict did not in general gain the kind of media attention generated by the James Bay Cree or the Dene of the Northwest Territories. Perhaps that is why Manitoba Hydro and the Government of Manitoba feel they can quietly get away with writing another page of colonial history on Cree territory.
The past forty years have seen dramatic changes among the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. In 1963 the legacy of colonialism was deeply entrenched, Aboriginal peoples were seen as a ‘problem population’ within Canada, Aboriginal rights were widely ignored and unknown, there were few national voices or fora for Aboriginal leaders. In 2003 the struggle to decolonize is being engaged in a wide variety of institutions.
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