By Red Power Media, Staff / May 12, 2016
Fox Lake Cree Nation suspects Manitoba Hydro involved after sacred site destroyed
A remote Cree Nation about 1,000 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, has put up a blockade to keep workers from three Manitoba Hydro sites, after band members discovered ceremonial land desecrated.
According to the Winnipeg Free Press, Fox Lake Cree Nation members began a blockade Thursday morning at the junction of the reserve and Highway 290, blocking access to Hydro’s Limestone Generation station, Keewatinohk Access Gate and Henday Converter Station.
The blockade comes after members of the band discovered ceremonial land, adorned with prayer flags and tobacco ties, was destroyed. Several trees were uprooted, flags were found on the ground and the tobacco ties were disrupted, said Chief Walter Spence of Fox Lake Cree Nation.
The prayer flags and tobacco ties signified the land as a sacred site.
“We were just horrified because for the past few decades now, whenever Manitoba announces they are going to start construction, there is an agreement that our people would do a sacred ceremony because we know Manitoba Hydro is changing the landscape,” Spence said.
“We are shocked that it occurred one more time and when we reported it to our band members they were quite hurt and we decided we needed to take social action.”
A similar incident was reported by the Cree Nation in 2007, when a burial site was disturbed by Manitoba Hydro crews working on stripping the land.
Manitoba Hydro investigating incident
CBC News reports, Spence has spoken to Manitoba Hydro President and CEO Kelvin Shepherd and he feels that Hydro is taking the community’s concern seriously.
Thursday afternoon, Scott Powell, a spokesperson for Manitoba Hydro said the corporation is doing an investigation into who may have done this and why, adding that Hydro’s CEO will travel to Fox Lake as soon as weather permits.
The ceremonial land was off limits to workers, as per an agreement the First Nation made with Manitoba Hydro.
The blockade does not affect regular traffic, and hasn’t impacted ongoing work at the three sites, but has blocked access in and out of the sites for Hydro’s 280 workers.