On World Water Day (March 22, 2022) students of the University of Manitoba in collaboration with Dam Watch International, organized and conducted an event – A Look Over Dams In Canada – to discuss the impacts of dams on the environment and communities across Canada. The students of UManitoba – Avneet Sidhu, Michael Lunn, Julie Chen, Tonmoy Ghosh and Francisca Nadine – are a part of the Community Leadership Development Program (CLDP). CLDP works closely with a wide range of communities and by doing so allows students to come together and understand the various work community leaders do and how the students can be an active part in aiding these communities.
The event was composed of talks from three key speakers; Dr. Peter Kulchyski, a professor for native studies at the University of Manitoba; and two community activists, Roberta Benefiel from Labrador, Canada and Roger Wheeler from Maine, USA.
The speakers explored the various impacts caused by dams, such as the flooding of terrains, including sacred sites; the introduction and presence of harmful chemicals into the ecosystem; and even the extinction of species. These are just a few of the many issues brought upon communities and locals fear it will not get better. A 2,250 MW dam project known as the Gull Island Project is underway along the Mista Shipu (Churchill River) in Labrador. The construction of this dam can lead to devastating consequences from local issues; increase in housing prices to environmental issues; downed trees in the boreal forest. Community leaders and members are actively working against dam projects to ensure a brighter future for each other.