A Brief History of Chemawawin Cree Nation
Chemawawin Cree Nation signed Treaty 5 in 1876. For decades the Chemawawin people lived in prosperity on rich resource based economy of the Chemawawin traditional territory. An estimated 350 people lived at the meeting point of the Saskatchewan River and Cedar Lake.
In 1957, Manitoba had already started planning to build the Grand Rapids Generating Station, although the people of Chemawawin Cree Nation were not informed until late4 in 1960. A forebay committee was created, made up of mostly civil servants to negotiate the terms of relinquishing Chemawawin lands and the relocation of its people. The details of the offer came to be known as “the 1962 Letter of Intent”.
The people of Chemawawin Cree Nation viewed this letter similar to a treaty. Chemawawin land was relinquished and the people were relocated to the south shore of Cedar Lake approximately 25 miles west of Grand Rapids. The new relocation proved to be poor substitute from the old site at Chemawawin. The new site continues to have health hazards and environmental issues. With the devastation of the economic and social structures, the people of Chemawawin Cree Nation became reliant on Government subsidies.
November 9th, 1990 – A settlement agreement was signed between Manitoba Hydro and Chemawawin Cree Nation to deal with adverse effects of the relocation and failed proper implementation of the forebay agreement. This agreement was not viewed to restore Chemawawin Cree Nation to its former status and the situation did not positively change in any significant way. There was still a great deal of assistance needed to deal with adverse effects of the relocation.
January 2004 – Chemawawin Cree Nation and Manitoba signed an agreement to transfer land and resources back to Chemawawin Cree Nation, including all of Cedar Lake. This agreement failed to restore Chemawawin Cree Nation to its former status. There was much work to be done to begin restoring the spirit and identity, while continuing to adjust to the new site.
January 2011 – Chemawawin Cree Nation and Manitoba Hydro signed an arrangement for the next 50 years to begin work on restoring the new site and the forebay agreement back to its former status or as close as possible. The Cedar Lake Community Projects program was created through this partnership to begin work on outstanding adverse effects, health hazards, and environmental issues that continue to plague our lands and resource areas. During this time work began on resorting the local economy and social structures that were devasted during the 50 years following the relocation.
Today we continue to fight for what our people deserve. We continue to work on building proper partnerships with the government and Manitoba Hydro to ensure we receive the resources our people deserve. This is an ongoing journey we continue to battle to ensure all future generations of Chemawawin Cree Nation receive what was originally owed to our people.
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