The following is a letter that was sent to Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister on May 15, 2020. To view this letter as a PDF document, please click here.
May 15, 2020
Premier Brian Pallister
204 Legislative Building
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8
Re: Concerns on Keeyask project during COVID-19 pandemic
I am writing to you to request clarification on your government’s position on the Keeyask project. The Public Health Orders issued on April 30, 2020, by the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brett Roussin including Prohibiting Travel to Northern Manitoba and Remote Communities and Self-Isolation Order for Persons Entering Manitoba have stipulated who may travel to Northern Manitoba. Article 2(b) under the Self-Isolation Order identifies that “persons who are engaged in providing vital services in Manitoba including… workers engaged in the construction or maintenance of critical infrastructure.” Can you clarify if the Keeyask project is deemed to have “critical infrastructure” status?
I also wanted to raise concerns related to the relationship with Manitoba Hydro CEO Jay Grewal in addressing the concerns of MKO and the Keeyask Cree Nation Partners. In a letter issued to Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) on May 8, 2020, Mrs. Grewal sidesteps our request to have high-level discussions on the concerns related to Keeyask COVID-19 pandemic plans. The desired approach to develop and approve the pandemic plans in partnership with the Cree Nation partners should have occurred before the draft plans were forwarded to Manitoba Health for consideration and approval. It is unacceptable that the Chiefs are apprised of Hydro’s plans at the same time as the Keeyask workers.
As you may be aware, MKO is deeply troubled by the plan to bring up to 1200 workers to Northern Manitoba from jurisdictions outside of Manitoba, including the United States of America. MKO has reviewed the information provided by Manitoba Hydro on its plans to restart the Keeyask project, including a letter issued to the Keeyask workers on April 22, which identified the Keeyask project’s COVID-19 response. Upon review of the letter, MKO would recommend that the Keeyask project enact the “Care and Maintenance Mode,” which would require 250 workers and reduce the transmission of COVID-19 into Northern Manitoba.
We anticipate a constructive response to the concerns raised in our letter, as the health and well-being of our communities during this pandemic is our main priority at this time. Please share a written response to our concerns at your earliest opportunity.
Grand Chief Garrison Settee
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc.
cc: Chief Doreen Spence, Tataskweyak Cree Nation
Chief Billy Beardy, Fox Lake Cree Nation
Chief Leroy Constant, York Factory Cree Nation
Chief Betsy Kennedy, War Lake First Nation
Grand Chief Arlen Dumas, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
President and Chief Executive Officer Jay Grewal, Manitoba Hydro
Honourable Jeff Wharton, Minister of Crown Services, Manitoba
Honourable Eileen Clarke, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Relations, Manitoba
Honourable Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Canada