Northern Flood Agreement (1977)

The Northern Flood Agreement was signed by Canada, Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro and the Northern Flood Committee representing the five First Nations (Nelson House, Norway House, Cross Lake, Split Lake and York Factory) whose reserve lands were to be flooded by the major hydro-electric projects planned. The agreement provided for an exchange of four acres for each acre flooded, the expansion and protection of wildlife harvesting rights, five million dollars to be paid over five years to support economic development projects on the reserves and promises of employment opportunities. The agreement was also to deal with any adverse effects to the “lands, pursuits, activities and lifestyles of reserve residents.” The five First Nations were guaranteed a role in future resource development as well as in wildlife management and environmental protection. Certain water level guarantees were made and Manitoba Hydro generally accepted responsibility for any negative consequences that might emanate from the flooding. In return, Hydro obtained the right to flood reserve lands as part of the Churchill Diversion Project. Disputes over any adverse effects were to be settled by arbitration. Manitoba Hydro obtained what it wanted as it proceeded with this massive project. The reaction from Aboriginal people has been far from positive. Only reserve residents were represented in the negotiations and were to receive any of the benefits. Many Métis and off-reserve Indians in the region still complain bitterly that their homes and traplines were destroyed and their hunting and fishing rights violated without any consultation or compensation.

(AJI, Volume I, page 173-174)