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Feds commit $20M to Freedom Road construction


June 30, 2017
By Andrew Snook


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June 30, 2017 – The Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation’s Freedom Road project in Shoal Lake No. 40 has received a $20-million commitment from the Government of Canada that will go towards all phases of construction for the project.

Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation is located near the Ontario-Manitoba border about 55 kilometres west of Kenora, Ont., a short distance south of the TransCanada Highway.

The Freedom Road will provide permanent all-weather road access for Shoal Lake No. 40’s 287 residents from the First Nation to the Trans-Canada Highway.

Chief Erwin Redsky of Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation and MP for Kenora Bob Nault, on behalf of Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett, announced that construction has begun on the on-reserve portion of the Freedom Road. 

“Secure access is life and death for our community so everyone is celebrating that we’re actually beginning construction of Freedom Road,” said Chief Erwin Redsky Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation. “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 realize the economic opportunities anticipated under our Tripartite Agreement.”

The total estimated cost of the Freedom Road project is $40 million. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) is contributing up to $20 million, with the Province of Manitoba and City of Winnipeg each contributing up to $10 million. INAC is providing $7.3 million to cover all costs related to Phase I of the project.

“I am pleased to celebrate this major milestone with Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation today. The construction of Freedom Road will have a profound impact on the community, as it will provide residents access to crucial medical and social services, while also affording them the opportunity to fully participate in the local economy. The Government’s investment in this project reflects its commitment to advancing reconciliation,” added Robert Nault, MP for Kenora.

“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,” stated Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett.

Source: Government of Canada