SUPPORT THE SAFETY OF INDIGENOUS WOMEN
“Violence against Aboriginal women has been so normalized we don’t recognize it. Racism is so normalized that we don’t recognize it. I didn’t know my rights. I didn’t know where to turn.” – Community member
Four northern Manitoba First Nations—York Factory First Nation, War Lake First Nation, Tataskweyak Cree Nation and Fox Lake Cree Nation—partnered with Manitoba Hydro on the Keeyask hydroelectric mega dam project. All four communities have members employed in dam construction and the associated camp, which can house up to 2,000 workers.
But despite this partnership, Manitoba Hydro operations have continued to violate the rights of Indigenous peoples.
Indigenous peoples—particularly Indigenous women—have reported experiencing racist, sexist, and homophobic harassment and violence, including sexual violence, on the construction site, in the worker camp, and in nearby urban centres. Some of these incidents have been reported to police. Others have been reported to media. Fearing reprisals at work and mistrusting police, many incidents have been reported to trusted community members.
First Nations partners in the dam project have called on Manitoba Hydro to urgently address the harassment and violence at the project site. Manitoba Hydro has stated it has “numerous initiatives to combat these issues.” But Manitoba Hydro’s efforts have not put an end to the harassment and violence.
Manitoba Hydro failed to comply with requests from First Nations to restrict access to the Keeyask project because of concerns that COVID-19 could spread rapidly in the camp and to nearby First Nations. After widespread peaceful protest, Manitoba Hydro reached agreement with the four partner First Nations to work together to protect communities from COVID-19. Manitoba Hydro must build on this partnership to address all concerns about the health, safety, and wellness of Indigenous peoples at the Keeyask dam.
Everyone has a right to be free from violence and discrimination, the right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to health.
Header image from: keeyask.com