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Northern Manitoba First Nations declare state of emergency over poor winter roads

WINNIPEG — Chiefs from four northern Manitoba First Nations say they have declared a state of emergency because unseasonably warm weather has led to the failing of the winter road network they depend upon for vital goods and services.

Grand Chief Scott Harper with a council representing the four First Nations, says their immediate focus is on expediting delivery of essential goods to safeguard the health, safety and well-being of residents.

Harper called on the provincial and federal governments to meet with representatives from St. Theresa Point, Wasagamack, Garden Hill and Red Sucker Lake.

Grand Chief Cathy Merrick of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says the state of emergency is the “direct outcome of a legacy of inaction from governments to ensure First Nations have equitable access to goods, services and essential resources.”

The emergency declaration comes after Merrick and the northern chiefs last week renewed their push for an all-season road on the east side of Lake Winnipeg that would connect remote northern communities to the south.

They are asking the Manitoba and federal governments to pay for a 252-kilometre road that would run from Berens River in the south, where the existing year-round road system ends, to St. Theresa Point in the north.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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