The community of Shoal Lake #40 First Nation is celebrating the progress made on Freedom Road. Kenora MP Bob Nault joined community members and Chief Erwin Redsky last week for an official celebration of the road construction reaching the Trans-Canada highway.
“This is about much more than just a road; it is about a community that came together to fight for long overdue justice in order to improve their everyday lives and the lives of generations to come,” said Nault.
Paving has not yet been completed, and the road is not yet connected to the Trans-Canada. Construction is set to continue into early next year, but the road is set to be used for local traffic in early December.
“Freedom Road will provide year-round access to the mainland, which means improved availability to healthcare and social programing. This also means increased economic opportunities, improved infrastructure, and I soon hope to see that it residents, who have been under a boil-water advisory for decades, will finally get access to a clean water supply.”
The First Nation is located on the Ontario-Manitoba border, and before Freedom Road, was only accessible by boat, and by an ice road in the winter. Once the 24-kilometre road is completed, First Nation members hope to attract jobs and economic opportunities, which will help to improve the quality of living.
“For decades, many community members were forced to leave their homes. Many of these same community members have expressed interest in returning home, and now, with the completion of Freedom Road, that opportunity is more realistic.
Members have been living with a boil water advisory for close to a generation, while residents of the City of Winnipeg draw their clean water from Shoal Lake. The community is hoping that the completion of Freedom Road will make it easier to construct a water treatment plant.
The completion of Freedom Road may also lead to the start of work on twinning the Trans-Canada, as neighbouring First Nation chiefs have said completion of the road was a condition for allowing the start of twinning the highway.
“This project is long overdue, and it is a testament to the conviction and dedication of Chief Redsky, community members, Freedom Road supporters, and countless others. For the residents of Shoal Lake 40, Freedom Road truly marks the beginning of better things to come.”
The $40 million project is funded by the federal government, the Manitoba government and the City of Winnipeg. The deal also ensures residents of the community are employed in the construction project.
For more information:
Milestone for Freedom Road
Freedom Road update