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An extract on #redsky

This First Nation's community inhabits a man-made island. It is accessible via barge traffic from Iskatewizaagegan 39 First Nation's dock, located in the community of Kejick, Ontario, and in winter by ice roads. The construction of a new all-season road to link this community with the Trans-Canada Highway is now more certain, after an agreement was reached between three levels of government, on how the cost would be covered. The First Nation possess basic infrastructure, limited retail outlets, indoor and outdoor recreational facilities and provide local elementary schooling to Grade 8.

In 1915 the City of Winnipeg annexed 33,000 acres of Shoal Lake 40 for the extraction of fresh water and the transport infrastructure to move it to the city, including an aqueduct. The construction project involved the excavation of indigenous burial grounds and disinterment of human remains. In 1980, both First Nation bands in this area (#39 and #40) planned to develop 350 cottage lots on Indian Bay, Shoal Lake. This project was opposed by the City of Winnipeg because of concerns about the safety of its drinking water, which is drawn from Indian Bay. The dispute was settled in 1989 when the Greater Winnipeg Water District placed $6 million in trust for Shoal Lake 40 with the interest to be used to fund alternative development projects. The agreement was conditional on a contribution of $3 million from the federal government. A tripartite agreement was finalized when a parallel agreement was signed between the federal government and Shoal Lake 40 in 1990. In the mean time Shoal Lake began importing water by barge or truck at a substantial cost. In 2011, when the proposal for a new water treatment plant showed that the cost would be more than anticipated, the Federal government refused to contribute the difference and the plan was abandoned. Instead, Shoal Lake proposed the construction of an all-weather road to guarantee safe year-round access to the reserve and for the importation of water.

Shoal Lake 40 joined forces with the neighbouring Manitoba municipality of Reynolds to encourage the building of an all-weather road by two levels of government, in order to connect with the Trans-Canada Highway. In earlier years, the community obtained many necessary supplies and goods via the Greater Winnipeg Water District Railway as they were shipped to the aqueduct water intake site. This terminus site for the railway was also known as Waugh Station. In 2015, the government had agreed to pay for a design project for the study, but would not promise to pay for the construction of "Freedom Road" itself. Earlier in the year, the community's ferrybarge failed to pass inspection and the local leadership declared a state of emergency.

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