Canada and Shoal Lake No.40 First Nation teams-up to build Freedom Road
The Canadian Government and Shoal Lake No.40 First Nation have started construction of Freedom Road, a permanent all-weather access road that will improve mobility, as well as community safety and unlock economic opportunities for the indigenous people living in the country.
Shoal Lake No40 First Nation is located at the Ontario-Manitoba border, which is 55km west of Kenora and a short distance south of the TransCanada Highway.
For the C$40m ($30.7m) project, the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) is contributing up to C$20m ($15.4m), while the province of Manitoba and city of Winnipeg each have agreed to contribute up to C$10m ($7.6m).
INAC has committed to provide C$7.3m ($5.6m) to cover all costs related to Phase I of the project.
The Government of Canada has agreed to contribute up to C$20m ($15.4m) for all phases of the Freedom Road project.
Construction works are reported to have started on-reserve portion of Freedom Road.
Shoal Lake No40 First Nation chief Erwin Redsky said: "Secure access is life and death for our community so everyone is celebrating that we're actually beginning construction of Freedom Road. We thank minister Bennett and INAC staff for working with us on creative solutions in our unique and complex circumstances.
“With the support of INAC, we look forward to continuing the work with our partners, the province of Manitoba and the city of Winnipeg, to complete the road's construction to the highway and to realise the economic opportunities anticipated under our tripartite agreement."
Upon completion of the project, the Freedom Road will provide an all-weather road access for Shoal Lake No40's residents from the First Nation to the Trans-Canada Highway, improving community well-being, as well as providing unrestricted access to essential goods and services.
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett said: "Our government is fully committed to supporting Shoal Lake No.40 First Nation in the construction of Freedom Road.
“Today's announcement will drastically improve the well-being of community members, allowing them to benefit from medical services, social programming, and other necessities of life.
“Congratulations to chief Redsky on this major initiative to put in place a year-round unrestricted access to Shoal Lake No.40 First Nation.
"We should take every opportunity to expedite Freedom Road as it is a long overdue step toward unlocking economic opportunities for the community and advancing reconciliation."