AMC Demands Immediate Government Action in Response to Red River Sewage Spill

February 22, 2024

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) vehemently condemns the City of Winnipeg’s negligence in permitting over 221.2 million litres of untreated sewage to contaminate the Red River. This environmental disaster, stemming from faulty pipes identified during a routine inspection last November, poses a grave threat to the health and well-being of First Nations across the province.

“The inherent right of First Nations to self-determination includes jurisdiction in relation to water, source water, drinking water, wastewater, and related infrastructure on, in, and under First Nation lands,” says AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “The failure of the City of Winnipeg to inform First Nations of this catastrophic incident reflects a disregard for First Nations rights and well-being.”

As custodians of the land and water since time immemorial, First Nations play a vital role in preserving the environment for future generations. Our Elders tell us that water is life and that our Treaties state that we have the right to continue with our way of life for as long as the waters flow, so the expertise and involvement of First Nations as decision-makers must be effectively integrated into governmental processes, legislation, and policies.

The AMC urgently calls upon all levels of government to collaborate closely with First Nations Leadership to address this crisis’s immediate health and social consequences. This collaboration must prioritize:

  • Immediate remediation efforts to fix and address the environmental disaster.
  • Development and implementation of preventive and disaster mitigation action plans, alongside emergency response strategies, to mitigate health, environmental, social, and economic impacts.
  • Conducting an immediate environmental health and social impact assessment in First Nations communities.
  • Investment in water and sewage treatment plants and related infrastructure to ensure safe drinking water.
  • Long-term strategies to upgrade the City of Winnipeg sewage system to prevent future disasters.
  • Establishment of a communication mechanism to inform First Nations of future disasters and their resolution.

Failure to act promptly could result in devastating consequences for affected First Nations. The AMC urges the City of Winnipeg, the province of Manitoba, and the federal government to meaningfully work with First Nations and take decisive action to address this urgent issue.

For more information, please contact:

Communications Team
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 172,000 First Nations citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anisininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) peoples.