Author: Shafak Sajid


The case study focuses on Manitoba Hydro and Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation’s (NCN) Wuskwatim project.

Project overview

The Wuskwatim project was the first time a utility company and an Aboriginal community entered a partnership to develop a major generating station, where NCN would purchase 33 per cent of the project’s shares. Primary Wuskwatim components include the 200 MW generating station and dam on the Burntwood River at Taskinigup Falls, transmission lines to the provincial power grid and an access road. Construction of the generating station ran from 2006 to late 2012 at a cost of $1.3 billion. The $300-million transmission line was a separate Manitoba Hydro project.

Read A Matter of Trust: The role of communities in energy decision-making

Manitoba Hydro: The province’s major energy utility, this Crown corporation was established in 1949. Manitoba Hydro has 14 hydroelectric generation stations on the Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Nelson and Laurie rivers that produce approximately 5,000 MW.

Community Context

The Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) is based in Nelson House, Man., 80 kilometres west of Thompson. About 4,600 members of the NCN live in Nelson House, South Indian Lake, Leaf Rapids, Thompson, Brandon and Winnipeg.

In the 1970s, Manitoba Hydro constructed the Churchill River Diversion, which had a great impact on the First Nations community because it led to increased flooding. This affected hunting, fishing, trapping, and sacred sites. The NCN claims Manitoba Hydro and the government took few steps to consult with the community before constructing the site.