The source file is in the Intranet. Any change made to this page will be overwritten by the update from Intranet.
A group of students from Hugh John Macdonald and R.B.
Russell Vocational High schools recently had the opportunity to journey to the
source of Winnipeg’s water supply: Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, Ontario.
The trip was part of the Careers that Fight Climate
Change program, an experiential and mentorship learning program that is the
result of a partnership with University of Manitoba, Menno Simons College,
Immigration Partnership Winnipeg and WSD. The program connects Indigenous and
Newcomer youth with university student mentors and offers first-hand
introductions into climate change-related careers.
As part of the Shoal Lake visit, students were able to
assist university science students as they measured nitrate and phosphate
levels, as well as collecting water samples to test for bacteria and other
“The real world experience of coming out and doing
this testing shows that this is not just an academic or theoretical process,
there’s a practical application,” said Paul Clarke, Community Support Worker at
R.B. Russell. “There are people living on Shoal Lake 40 and they need fresh
water to drink. This brings home all of the elements of Education for
Shoal Lake 40 currently has to import water by barge or
truck at a considerable cost due to ongoing concerns over water quality. The
First Nation is unable to build a water treatment plant due to costs and
logistics related to its unique location. Shoal Lake 40 is a man made island,
the result of the reservoir created for Winnipeg’s water supply.
“It’s made the community dependent on ice roads in the
winter and the barge in the summer,” said Anny Chen, a Community Service
Learning Coordinator at the University of Manitoba.
The ice roads are very much affected by climate
variances, while the barge (which connects to a dock on Shoal
Lake/Iskatewizaagegan 39 First Nation on the mainland) is also prone to delays.
“Ironically, today as we speak, we are stuck on Shoal
Lake 39, waiting for the barge to come across as there is currently a load
stuck on it on the island side,” Ms. Chen said. “This really represents just
the tiniest of glimpses into what people on Shoal Lake 40 deal with every day
of the year.”
Fortunately for the students, they were able to cross after
a relatively short delay; but the community has many challenges day-to-day.
“They don’t get as many privileges with water as we
get in Winnipeg,” said student Aduk Maciek.
The field trip was another way to explore the
connection of people with their environment.
a lot about the interdependence of people and the land,” said Jobb Arnold,
Assistant Professor in Conflict Resolution Studies at Menno Simons College.
“The fact that Winnipeg relies on Shoal Lake 40 for its water is a tangible
demonstration of that interdependence.”
Students said they appreciated the opportunity to
spend a fall day in a community vastly different than their own.
“I really liked this experience, going outside and
learning,” said student Gabby Corbillon.
The program’s other field trips included student visits
to: the Lower Fort Garry Historic Site to look at interdependence, treaty and
ecology; the Social Enterprise Centre to examine renewable energy; and Metanoia
Farmer’s Cooperative at the Canadian Mennonite University to look at seed
saving and community agriculture.