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Check out the latest news on the Highway 17 twinning project!
NIIWIN WENDAANIMOK Conducts Conditional Consent Ceremony
April 30, 2021
The Niiwin Wendaanimok Partnership and the Government of Ontario (represented by the Ministry of Transportation) entered a sacred ceremony today, conducted under the law and guidance of the Manito Aki Inakonigaawin. This ceremony confirms the parties’ understandings and solemnifies conditional consent from the Niiwin Wendaanimok Partnership to Ontario to enter Anishinaabe territory under Anishinaabe guidance to undertake construction of Phase 1 of the TransCanada Highway 17 Twinning Project. Read the press release here. Phase 1 Map here.
PHASE I : HIA + HIGHWAY TWINNING
Since 2018 the Niiwin Wendaanimok Partnership has been working for the interests of the people of Wauzhushk Onigum, Washagamis Bay, Shoal Lake 40, and Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation. Their focus has been concerning the Twinning of Highway 17 between the Manitoba/Ontario border and Kenora (“the Project”). The Project is planned to move forward in several phases, though the specific dimensions of each phase is currently under review. With that said, the Province of Ontario is considering twinning the highway between the Manitoba border to the western extent of the Kenora border. The Niiwin Wendaanimok is working hard to ensure potential impacts from the Project are mitigated and to secure economic opportunities for the four Nations. For more information, please see our Media page.
2020 saw the completion of the Phase 1 Anishinaabe Aki Kakendamowin (AAK), the documentation of the knowledge and practices associated with the care and protection for the lands, skies, soils, and waters. This knowledge has been used to identify and assess potential impacts of Phase 1 of the Project through the Harmonized Impact Assessment (HIA), ground-breaking impact assessment process that harmonizes the principles of the Anishinaabe Sacred Earth Law (Manito Aki Inakonigaawin) with contemporary scientific impact assessment best practices and principles.
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Anishinaabe Guardians Program
The Anishinaabeg have made their home on Mikinaak Minis (Turtle Island) since time immemorial and have a special relationship with the land, skies, waters, soils and all the creatures of Aki (Earth). During the Anishinaabe Aki Kakendamowin (AAK), the Elders noted the importance of making sure the lands, skies, soils, and water were being protected and the promises being made (i.e., the mitigation measures) were kept. To monitor the impacts of the Twinning activities, the Niiwin Wendaanimok Partnership is exploring the creation of an Anishinaabe Guardians Program.
Across Canada, Indigenous Guardians programs are designed to protect sensitive ecological and cultural sites. Guardians work to monitor the environmental health of sites, develop land-use plans, and support the intergenerational transmission of Indigenous traditional knowledge. The teachings of the MAI as well as the knowledge contained within the AAK will inform the mission of the Anishinaabe Guardians. Although the AAK has only just begun, it already a considerable repository of cultural and historic information. As such, Anishinaabe culture will be interwoven in daily operations of the Guardians Program.
Furthermore, the Guardians will incorporate Anishinaabe ceremonial and spiritual observances in their work. Along each step of the Highway Project, the Niiwin Wendaanimok have brought the process into ceremony, with feasting, drum songs, and gift giving. In preparation for construction activities, Elders and spiritual leaders will participant in on-site ceremonies to ask permission from the spirits for safe passage and alteration of the land.