APTN National News
The community of Shoal Lake 40 in Manitoba hosted a celebratory feast last week to kick off construction of the much awaited Freedom Road.
Nearly 50 people including community members, people from the province and representatives from the federal government gathered at the community’s recreation centre for a ceremony that included speeches, drumming and a tour of the construction site.
Construction of the road officially began in May. Chief Erwin Redsky
Chief Erwin Redsky said Friday’s celebration not only marks the beginning of a new road but also the beginning of a road to reconciliation.
“Today is a day of celebration. Reaching a major milestone of beginning of construction of our road. Freedom Road.” He said, “This demonstrates what partnership can look like. What equality can look like.”
Shoal Lake 40 was forced onto a man-made island more than 100 years ago when the city of Winnipeg built an aqueduct to ensure the city had clean drinking water. The community relies on ferry transportation during the summer months and a winter road during the rest of the seasons.
They have been under a boil water advisory for the past two decades. Something Chief Redsky hopes will change once the road is complete.
Bob Nault, MP for Kenora, was in attendance for Friday’s celebration. He admits Canada still has a lot of work to do and Freedom Road is just the beginning.
“There’s an opportunity to build a new water plant and build other infrastructure in the community.”
Last year the federal government agreed to cover up to $20 million toward the road, while the province and the city each agreed to pay $10 million.
Freedom Road stretches 24-kilometres with nine of those being on Shoal Lake 40. The road will connect the community to the Trans-Canada Highway. Completion of on reserve road is set for October. A representative for the province couldn’t confirm a date for full completion of the road.