Elizabeth May calls on Harper Conservatives to end isolation of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation residents

OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada is calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Bernard Valcourt, to restore ferry service to the Shoal Lake 40 community and to work with the province of Manitoba, and the city of Winnipeg in the construction of an all-weather access road.

“The people of Shoal Lake 40 have lived under a boil water advisory for far too long. Now that the ferry service to the mainland is gone, resident access to food, clean water, and immediate medical attention has made day-to-day living unbearable,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP (Saanich – Gulf Islands). “I call on Minister Valcourt to ensure this community has access to essential services while the ferry undergoes repair.”

The Shoal Lake 40 First Nation was cut off from the mainland a hundred years ago in order to divert fresh water from Shoal Lake to Winnipeg. On May 1st, ferry service to the community was abruptly discontinued while the ferry is being repaired. The reserve has no all-weather road and has been under a boil-water advisory for 17 years.

First Nation leaders have been calling for the construction of an all-weather road for years. During the summer, the only connection residents of the Shoal Lake 40 Nation have to the mainland is by ferry.

“We have heard enough excuses from all governments,” added Bruce Hyer, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP (Thunder Bay – Superior North). “Real action is long overdue – in fact, it is a century overdue! The time is now to ensure that Shoal Lake 40 residents have safe drinking water, year-round transportation access.”

“The unfairness of the situation is evident,” concluded Christy Radbourne, Green Party candidate for Thunder Bay – Rainy River. “All parties, particularly the city of Winnipeg, need to work together to ensure clean drinking water and reliable transportation are available to the people of Shoal Lake.”